Neighbors, friends, and advocates for the family of Amilcar Perez Lopez marked the anniversary of his shooting by San Francisco police officers on Friday with a march from Folsom and 24th streets to Mission Police Station.
“We’re not going to stop until we have justice for Amilcar,” said pastor Michael McBride at a memorial before the march. “My tradition says that God did not give us fear, but the power of love and a made-up mind.”
Supervisor David Campos compared himself to Perez Lopez, noting that they both immigrated from Guatemala, and criticized the mayor for not acknowledging Perez Lopez’s shooting.
“It’s very clear to me that someone like me could have been the victim of what happened,” Campos said. “To this day I don’t think that Mayor Lee has ever uttered the name of Amilcar.”
Adriana Camarena, an organizer with the Justice for Alex Nieto coalition, lived across from Perez Lopez on Folsom Street.
“I am, was, a neighbor of Amilcar,” she said. She noted that organizing with other families who had lost loved ones to police shootings had shaped her activism in Perez Lopez’s case. “When Amilcar was killed we organized. One of our biggest lessons was to do our own research.”
She invited those assembled to “divest from police” – to try to handle crises within the local community, rather than getting law enforcement involved.
“Don’t call the police on your neighbors,” Camarena said.
Francisco Herrera, a musician and organizer as well as a recent mayoral candidate, spoke to Perez Lopez’s strength in an attempt to dismiss the narrative that paints minorities as hapless victims.
“Racism always wants to have us look like the victim,” he said, adding that the money Perez Lopez had sent to his hometown in Guatemala had helped provide electricity to part of the community. Arnoldo Casillas, the lawyer representing Perez Lopez’s family in a civil suit against the city and police chief, said later that Perez Lopez had also sent money for his family to purchase a corn shucking machine, with which they intended to start a business.
The protestors marched west on 24th Street, stopping briefly for dancers to dance in the intersection of 24th and Mission streets before heading north on Valencia toward Mission Police Station.
Once at the station, Casillas adressed the marchers. He asked them to be part of a video to send to Perez Lopez’s family, showing local support for the family’s case.
“I wanted them to know that we haven’t forgotten Amilcar,” Casillas said. “Amilcar ran from the police, they shot him in cold blood….It was a cold blooded murder, there’s no way to look at it other than that.”
The District Attorney is still working on its investigation of the two officers involved in the shooting, Craig Tiffe and Eric Reboli, and it is unclear if criminal charges will be brought. Until the investigation is concluded, Casillas’s case is in a holding pattern.
The marchers adjourned at St. John the Evangelist Church on 15th Street, where Perez Lopez’s funeral had been held, with a blessing and a communal meal.