By Adriana Camarena
Undaunted by the threat of rain, dozens marched and rallied on the anniversary of the death of Luis Gongorra-Pat, an immigrant worker from Yucatan, Mexico, who was shot by San Francisco police on April 7, 2016, at 19th and Shotwell streets.
Cell-phone videos taken by witnesses a year ago show that Gongora-Pat, 45, was shot by four to five bean bag rounds and seven bullets by Officer Michael Mellone and Sergeant Nate Seger in the span of 28 seconds from the moment of their arrival in response to a call that someone at the camp for the homeless was wielding knife. Gongora-Pat, an indigenous Mayan who spoke little Spanish and even less English, was sitting down when police showed up, witnesses said.
Gongora-Pat immigrated to the U.S. in 2004 and worked as a dishwasher among other Mayan Yucatecs at a Mels’ Diner in the Mission. But he would lose that job, and later his housing by 2013 putting him among the homeless in San Francisco.
The altar built in his memory was erected at the site where he was killed. Bernardo Caamal, an expert in Mayan customs from Peté, Yuctaán, led a Ceremoniral Ku’sakai prayer and Ohlone activist Corrina Gould and Danza Azteca were on hand. The march then proceeded to the Mission District police station, where the police who killed Gongorra-Pat worked and then on to the rally at City Hall.
To underscore the suffering of his brother, José Góngora Pat, the brother of Luis, carried a heavy cross from station to station of the protest march, called the March on Police Terror in the anctuary City.”
“My brother’s unjust killing by police is the cross that I have to bear,” said José. He concluded his protest march in honor of Luís by re-enacting his brother’s death at the steps of City Hall, adding “I put myself in his shoes to help the people of San Francisco understand the horror and pain and injustice inflicted on my brother by those officers.”
Gongora-Pat’s cousins Luis and Carlos Poot were also among the marchers.
POOR Magazine’s Tiny Gray-Garcia was the MC of the rally which involved with a large cross- section of supporters, including family members, Causa Justa, Mothers on the March for Justice and homeless advocate organizations.
At City Hall, Adante Pointer, of the John Burris law firm, who represents the family in a federal civil case against SFPD, reminded the crowd that the trial won’t happen until 2018. Carolina Morales, legislative aide to District 9 Supervisor Hillary Ronen and Francisco Ugarte, Immigrant Defense Public Defender of San Francisco also spoke. The rally closed with a poem by Amalia Alvarez in honor of Góngora-Pat.
POOR magazine, and El Tecolote contributed to this report.