Jacinto Noh Canche

“Yes, here I am, ready to roll, how can I help?” was a phrase Jacinto Noh Canché often said to Francisco Herrera, director of the Day Labor Program and Women’s Collective in San Francisco, where he had been a member for almost two years and participated in community organizing.

Noh Canché was killed in the early morning hours on Saturday, May 22 at James Rolph, Jr., playground in the Mission. The San Francisco Police Department says officers arrived at around 3 a.m. and he was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Herrera says an officer told him Noh Canché had been shot.  The police did not confirm any details, but have categorized his death as a homicide. His identity has not been confirmed by the Office of the Medical Examiner or the SFPD, as they have been unable to reach his family with news of his death. 

But a “Request for Information” poster that was put up in the neighborhood by the Police Department identified the homicide victim as Jacinto Noh Canché.

Herrera recalled Noh Canché’s positive attitude and passion as he participated in civic organizing to fight for the legal rights of day laborers across the country. 

In January, 2020, Noh Canché took the bus to Los Angeles to attend the National Day Laborer Organizing Network Conference. There, Herrera said, he was chosen to lead a small group. “He always asked great clarifying questions,” said Herrera. 

Herrera remembered Noh Canché walking out of the 40-person meeting invigorated. 

“‘We can have an impact on the quality of life issues in our communities,’” Herrera recalled Noh Canché saying. “What captured me was his desire to learn, to contribute, and to discover we could really make a difference.”

Noh Canché was born in Quintana Roo, Mexico, on Sept. 11, 1979, according to Herrera, who has been in touch with the Mexican Consulate to alert the family of the death. That would make him 41 years old at the time of his death.  Herrera was surprised to learn that he was 41, because he thought he was 28 or 29. “Some of our community members are ‘traga años,’ or ‘swallowed years’, ” said Herrera.

Noh Canché had been a member of the Day Labor Program for three years. During the pandemic, he worked as a community outreach worker and data collector. As a data collector, he spoke with people standing at corners waiting for work, people living on the streets, and people in cars, asking them: “What do you need? What are your plans to continue your life? How can the city be supportive of those issues?” 

Eventually, information gathered from this research was used in a collaborative project between the Department of Public Health, the Fire Department, Supervisor Hillary Ronen’s office, the Covid Command Center, and the Homeless Outreach Team to form the “Mission District Neighborhood Safety Assessment and Action Plan in Response to COVID-19

From left to right: Jon Jacobo (Chair, LTF health committee, kneeling with black jacket), Tracy Gallardo (LTF executive committee member, Aide to President Supervisor, Shaman Walton); Valeri Tulier-Laiwa (Coordinator of the Latino Task Force), Gabriela Lopez, chair, Education committee of the LTF, S.F. School Board President), Aminta Morales (Women’s Collective Member), center: Francisco Herrera (Co-Director, Day Labor Program/Women’s Collective of Dolores Street Community Services, and Chair, , LTF Street Needs Assessment Team); Jose Huizar (Member of Day Labor Program); Jacinto Noh Canché (Day Labor Program).

Photo by Eva Tirado (Member Women’s Collective, outreach worker), taken April 25, 2020, at Parque Niños Unidos hall testing site. 

With a smile on his face even during tough times, Noh Canché always worked to empower folks and help others, said Miguel Albarran Fernandez, the lead organizer for the Day Labor Program. 

But as work became scarce, Noh Canché struggled to maintain stable housing. Herrera said that Noh Canché was a very proud person, and at first did not want to receive help when offered. Instead, he found himself a room in someone’s garage in the Mission. But eventually, that fell through. 

And, although The San Francisco Day Labor Program is a hub to help people find jobs doing things such as landscaping, construction, and moving, Herrera tried to help Noh Canché find a room when he lost his housing a second time. But to no avail. 

“He was literally on the streets, sleeping on the sidewalk, and we were trying to get him a room” during the summer. 

At the time, according to Herrera, there were 5,000 rooms available that were subsidized by FEMA, but Herrera could not find Noh Canché a room. 

“I know that … Jacinto would be alive [if he had gotten a room],” said Herrera.  Jacinto had been staying on the sidewalk around Rolph Park for the last 10 months or so. 

Albarran Fernandez, who worked with Noh Canché passing out informational flyers about social distancing and testing during the pandemic, recalled a meeting in which Noh Canché spoke his mind and delivered his perspective respectfully. He had questioned how “we know these folks we are giving flyers with numbers on are really getting help?” 

Albarran Fernandez said,  “I thought he was going to be the person we brought up. He had a lot of potential as a leader in the community.” 

If you have any information related to this incident, please contact 415-575-4444. 

A gofund me has been created to raise money for his funeral services. https://www.gofundme.com/f/repatriar-el-cuerpo-de-jacinto-noh-canche-a-mexico

Clara-Sophia Daly

Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys...

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5 Comments

  1. It’s sad and tragic to read that he would still be alive if he wasn’t forced to live on the streets. As mentioned in this weeks “Developments in Development”, the Land Trust has five vacancies at Merry Go Round House. I know first hand of a lot of vacancies in supportive housing for homeless. The City can’t seem to managed the process of filling vacancies.

  2. This makes me so sad. He was hardworking and can’t find a place to sleep when the City of SF Homeless Department/Coalition is handing out motel rooms to addicts during the pandemic. What’s wrong with this picture?

  3. This is tragic. That Jacinto Noh Canche had to sleep on the street in a city with so many millions of dollars devoted to outreach programs and services shows we’re not even close to getting it right.

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