San Francisco city officials on Tuesday approved plans to erect a memorial for a man who was fatally shot by law enforcement in spite of objections raised by local police.
The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 during a hearing Tuesday in favor of an ordinance calling for the city to build a memorial for Alex Nieto, a 28-year-old security guard who was shot and killed by San Francisco police on March 21, 2014 while on his way to work at a local nightclub.
Police were responding to calls of a man with a gun in Bernal Heights Park when they mistook Nieto’s Taser for a firearm and began shooting. All four officers who opened fire were cleared of wrongdoing earlier this year by a civil federal grand jury.
The majority of city lawmakers approved plans that would see a memorial built at the scene of the shooting at Tuesday’s meeting, but faced opposition from the board’s lone dissenter, Supervisor Mark Farrell, a Democrat, as well as the San Francisco Police Officer’s Association (POA).
“We don’t recognize the police officers killed or injured protecting residents,” Mr. Farrell said at Tuesday’s hearing, a local CBS affiliate reported. “Somehow we’ve forgotten the debt we owe these men and women and someone needs to stand up for them.”
“We believe that we as a city should instead be honoring real heroes, the first responders who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our community from harm,” POA President Martin Halloran agreed in a statement shared with the CBS affiliate. “Many have fallen protecting our great City and its residents — far too many to offer up an individual memorial to each of them.”
Supervisor Malia Cohen, Democrat, rejected the idea that city officials were purposely choosing to honor the victims of police violence in lieu of memorializing fallen officers, however, and urged cops to formally propose any plans they may have for a monument of their own liking.
“If law enforcement wants to be recognized, all they have to do is ask, the same way the community has asked,” she said Tuesday, according to Courthouse News.
“We can honor the men and women of the police department and the dangers that they face and we can honor the men and women of our community who are tragically killed, these are not exclusive things,” agreed Supervisor Aaron Peskin, Democrat.
Passage this week of the resolution means plans for Nieto’s memorial will next be weighed by the city’s Art Passage for further consideration. As it currently stands, the monument will be the first in San Francisco dedicated to a police shooting victim, Courthouse News reported.
“This means everything because on that hill we celebrate his birthday and his death,” Nieto’s father, Rugio, told NBC News through a translator.