SCREEN GRABS A cherry lipstick red 1974 Chevrolet glided down 24th street in La Mision, as it’s called by La Raza and so many other working class communities throughout the centuries who built this beautiful barrio after the missionaries stole it from the Ohlone Nation.
As the Chevy rolled past each block, its shining gold-rimmed tires seemed to fly above the newest invaders, the hipsters and tech workers, tipping over their $4 coffees and vegan donuts as they walked along the street as if they had always been here.
The Chevy stopped in front of the Brava theatre, where the new movie was showing: Lowrider Lawyers: Putting a City on Trial, about the community taking back the courts for justice for Alex Nieto. A young Xicano man emerged, wearing a red 49ers jacket and a snap-back cap. He moved slowly toward the front door of the theatre and then disappeared into the atmosphere.
The Brava theatre was filled with amor for Alex last Sunday. The humble spirit of Nieto, a life-long Mission resident and scholarship student, danced on the backs of the theatre chairs and throughout the audience. His quiet revolutionary love surrounded the sold-out crowd of attendees.
“Alex Nieto, you made the world better…When you visited there was always laughter…” Margarita Bac Sierra, the 12-year-old daughter of movie director Ben Bac Sierra, opened the beautiful event with a poem of love to te “Tio” (uncle) who she had known all her life before he was killed by police for being brown as he ate his burrito on Bernal Hill before he had to report to his job as a security guard.
Her poem was part of a powerful opening program that included hip Hop skolaz Equipto and Dregs 1 and the beautiful, undying love and scholarship of Ben Bac Sierra, poet, organizer, teacher, and writer.
“How did you know he was a gang member?” The lowrider lawyers raised questions at a People’s Trial that unfolded on the screen. They were discussing the events that led to a 911 call to the police about Nieto.
A man called Mr. Wolf, hilariously played by community organizer Al Osorio, answered with confusion: “Because he was wearing a red jacket.”
“How do you know that a red jacket and cap means he is a gang member?” the lowrider lawyer continued to probe
“Because I have seen them on TV,” Mr. Wolf concluded looking blankly.
The dialogue was adapted from depositions taken in the Nieto family’s civil suit against the city.
This movie is a powerful and urgent example of what we at POOR Magazine call poverty scholarship, La gente, the people taking back the courts, the institutions of so-called justice, power and oppression that constantly support the testing, arresting, and incarcerating of every poor and person of color they get.
Written and directed by Benjamin Bac Sierra and filmed and edited by Peter Menchini with music by Dr Loco (Jose Cueller) and Favi Estrella, and lowrider lawyers played by community leaders, Frisco residents, mission homegirls and homeboys and the amazing Ben Bac Sierra.
“Community media, social media, these film showings and the rallies are all so important to keep the truth coming out, Adante Pointer, conscious lawyer who is representing Alex Nieto’s family in the upcoming trial beginning March 1, said at the post-film community panel that also included Roberto Hernandez, Edwin Lindo and Thea Mathews. “Because the mainstream media will come out with their usual narrative which will be an attack on Alex’s character and we need to counter that with the truth.”
Ben saved the best for last, closing this magical day of spirit and art with Alex Nieto singing La mananitas ( Happy Birthday) carrying us out of the theatre with his amor.
The movie is a must see, deep and real and dense with life and musica and truth, too short like my fellow POOR magazine staff writer Leroy Moore who went with me said. And like the rhythm from the Aztec danzantes huetlhuetl from the opening scene in the courtroom, which penetrated the settler colonial laws that protect the modern day settler class, with spirit, truth and consciousness, Lowrider Lawyers is not only an act of artistic liberation but of our collective liberation as peoples, as youth, as community in unity.
Tiny, aka Lisa Grey Garcia, is an editor at POOR Magazine and a 48hills contributor. Ben is asking all conscious community to join the family at the upcoming court trial, which will begin in early March. For more information go on-line to facebook- justice for Alex Nieto killed by SFPD