Around 100 NYC residents gathered at Brook Park in the South Bronx to stand in solidarity with neighbors, friends and family of Alex Nieto who were mourning the two year anniversary of Alex’s brutal killing at the hands of the San Francisco Police Department. The night was a collaboration between the Black Lives Matter group “NYC Shut It Down” and the immigrant rights organization “ICE Free NYC.”
Despite the sharp cold of the second day of spring, the gathering of activists remained in high spirits. There were traditional Indigenous performances, a radical sing along, a “Know Your Rights” training in English and Spanish plus delicious free burritos from neighborhood Mexican restaurant, “La Morada.”
The hosts spoke to the crowd about why it was important to stand together on the anniversary of Alex Nieto’s death and keep his memory alive through struggle. Kim Ortiz from NYC Shut it Down spoke from the mic, explaining how the movement can use the tragedy as a vehicle to fight against police brutality and at the same time unite the Black and Brown communities against a common enemy – the police.
Arturo Castaneda, who found out about the event from an Instagram picture on an activist friend’s page, came alone and spoke to Liberation News about why he was moved to attend. “I wanted to come and meet like-minded people in the area. I read about the case and was very saddened by it. There have been so many cases of Black and Brown people attacked and murdered by the police and I know that there is this disparity in murder rates for people of color so I just wanted to come out and support.”
After the program, the crowd united to read the facts of Alex Nieto’s killing out loud, which got the crowd excited to begin marching through the streets of the South Bronx. When we were ready to go, chants of “What’s his name?! Alex Nieto!”, “Brown Lives Matter!” and “Shut it Down!” started to ring out from the crowd. Protesters exited the park and immediately took the streets eventually shutting down traffic on the Willis Ave bridge which connects the Bronx to Harlem and then shut down 125th street in Harlem, finally ending at a small park on 116th street.
Despite some police intimidation organizers were able to avoid any arrests and participants left confident that the NYC had represented for our brother Alex Nieto of San Francisco — RIP 3/21/14.