CHUCK PROPHET – ” Alex Nieto “

Posted: March 24, 2016 in MUSIC
Tags: ,

My co-writer Kurt and I had been following the case, and when the civil case verdict came down letting the cops off the hook the song wrote itself in twenty minutes. Nothing’s going to bring Alex Nieto back, but a line has to be drawn. He was killed because techies moved into his neighborhood and saw longtime residents as a threat. And the cops thought his Forty Niner jersey was some kind of gang sign. Don’t they train these people?

From an e-mail from Chuck Prophet

“A few days ago Kurt Lipschutz and I were in my shoebox-sized “office” space in SOMA toying with our Temple Beautiful musical and I was absently strumming my guitar. We meandered into complaining about this, that, and the other thing when we got into the Alex Nieto civil case verdict which had just come in. We got charged up. “He was a Buddhist, Man! “He was born in General Hospital!” I hit the loudest chord I know (a “B” barre chord with all the remaining strings ringing open) and shouted to the walls, “Alex Nieto was a pacifist!” “A Forty Niners fan!!!!!” he answered back. Soon there were two chords going back and forth and we were digging what we were hearing bouncing around the room – 20 minutes later the song had pretty much written itself.

Later, we took a walk up 7th Street toward the Muni underground on Market, and the weight of responsibility to the memory of Alex Nieto began to sunk in. We argued over a couple of lines, fixed them, and parted ways. Coincidentally I had a session booked the next day at Matt Winegar’s new studio in his garage in Oakland. When I got there I picked up an acoustic and sang it to Matt. Then, he simply handed me his Gibson Les Paul and got behind the drums. We passed instruments back and forth and within a couple hours we had a track.

Some of the small details may be wrong, but the big picture is there. And I’m still not 100% sure I pronounced Nieto correctly. [I think it’s Nee-Eh-Toe].

What I do know is that Alex Nieto was a good dude, with no criminal background whatsoever, probably more of a contributing member to society than I am, and a good brother, and a son to two strong parents. He was killed by police eating a burrito in Bernal Heights, a gentrifying neighborhood that he grew up in and … he did not deserve to die.

He. Did. Not. Deserve. To. Die.

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He was executed because a couple young white professionals new to the neighborhood where Alex spent his whole life were threatened by a brown-skinned 28-year-old in a 49er’s jacket. They profiled him as a gang member and called 911.

Yes, Alex had a taser. It was for his job as a security guard. In that park, as a result of those 911 calls, cops unloaded 59 bullets in and around him. A federal jury of non-San Francisco residents ruled that the four San Francisco police officers who fired those bullets and killed him two years ago did not use excessive force. How many bullets would that have been?”

You can also read the excellent Guardian article by Rebecca Solnit here.

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