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Police Terror in the Sanctuary City

Lois Gongora Pat anniversary march 2 by Peter Menchini

Photo: Peter Menchini.

San Francisco.

It’s been one year since the police assassination of Luis Gongora Pat, a 45-year-old Yucatecan Mayan immigrant restaurant worker in the Mission District of this city.

An angered, sorrowful community commemorated the anniversary at the spot where Gongora was riddled with police bullets, execution-style, as he sat on the sidewalk near the tent he’d lately been calling his home.

De facto policy of the Democrats: No prosecution for killer cops

Led by Aztec dancers and drummers, protesters then marched to Mission Police Station. That’s the place where Cristina Gutierrez and four others began a 17-day hunger strike in April 2016 to condemn the seemingly endless string of unjustified police murders of Black and Brown people in this rapidly gentrifying city. Gutierrez decried the fact that up till now in 2017, District Attorney Gascon has not prosecuted a single one of these killer cops.

The “Frisco Five” hunger strikers had only one demand: Fire Greg Suhr, the police chief who for five years had been crying ‘crocodile tears’ while justifying every police killing of a Black or Latino person…who for five years was vigilantly protected by the mayor, the media, the labor leadership and the city’s ruling Democratic Party political establishment. [Note: A militant grassroots campaign spearheaded by the Frisco Five finally did succeed in forcing out Chief Suhr, less than a month after the Gongora murder.]

When the ‘Blue Klux Klan’ controls the streets, there is no sanctuary

The third stop of the “Justice for Luis” procession was the residential hotel where Gongora had been living until he was illegally evicted and forced to live on the street. “They pretend that this is a Sanctuary City but that’s a lie,” said Bilal Ali from the Coalition on Homelessness. “If you’re an immigrant in San Francisco and homeless, there is no sanctuary here.

“McCoppin Park here used to be a refuge for people without a home, where you could lay your head without fear of being harassed or beaten by the Blue Klux Klan,” said Ali. “Now they’ve put a high fence around the park. That’s how they entrap people, forcing them out into the street where they can be abused or killed. This city spends $20.7 million to criminalize and brutalize and drive out homeless people.”

Why is the city promoting ethnic cleansing and houselessness?

Gloria Esteva, from Causa Justa/Just Cause, said “we need to braid together our many different struggles, small or large, so we can bring down the monster of injustice that is hurting all of us.”

“We are not only advocating against police brutality and murders” said Laura Guzman, director of homeless services at Mission Neighborhood Health Center, “but also that this city is promoting racist and ethnic cleansing and houselessness” in the Mission and throughout the city. “No one is homeless by design,” she added, calling for “a massive program to provide immigrant housing.”

Luis Gongora came here in 2004. He helped to support his wife, parents and three children in the small town of Teabo, Yucatan (Mexico), by sending remittances from his earnings as a restaurant cook and dishwasher in San Francisco.

His cousin, Luis Poot Pat, said in Spanish: “My cousin suffered many injustices to get to this Sanctuary City, only to face more cruelty here. He suffered poverty, forced migration, low wages, illegal eviction, homelessness and discrimination, only to be killed by an act of senseless police brutality in less than 30 seconds.”

His family in Teabo wrote a statement that was read on the steps of City Hall: “Today marks a year since the death of Luis, our beloved father, an exemplary father, a great son and a great husband, whom the San Francisco police took away from us. The culprits are still free. How is that possible in a city like San Francisco? All we ask is justice for our father.”

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