Things That Matter

A San Francisco Mural Is Honoring An Undocumented Guatemalan Immigrant Who Was Unarmed And Killed By Police

The people of San Francisco have a lot of heart. Yes, the wealthy thrive there, and the homeless community continues to grow, but somewhere in the middle is an empowering group of fighters for justice. They do not back down but instead make their voices heard loud and clear. It’s a tight-knit alliance that is responsible for forcing change on all fronts of authority. San Franciscans are also incredibly beautiful at honoring fallen residents. 

Almost five years after 20-year-old Amilcar Perez-Lopez was gunned down by police in San Francisco, artists are honoring him with a massive mural in the Mission District.

Credit: crashgrammy / Instagram

The mural was designed and directed in community and collaboration by Carla Elana Wojczuk with, Homies Organizing the Mission to Empower Youth (HOMEY), Justice4Amilcar Coalition, Mission community, Lucía González Ippolito, and assisted by Flavia Elisa Mora; Lead Muralists: Carla Elana Wojczuk, Lucía González Ippolito, Cristian Muńoz, Anna Lisa Escobedo, Adrianna Adams, Flavia Elisa Mora (painting and poetry), Pancho Pescador; lettering: Sonia G Molin. The mural is titled “Alto al Fuego en La Misón” and the most prominent subject on the mural is Perez-Lopez, the undocumented young man from Guatemala.

On Feb. 26, 2015, Perez-Lopez was fatally shot by the SFPD, who were in plainclothes in the Mission District. The officers reported that they “opened fire to protect themselves and others from a man who was acting erratically and was armed with a knife,” the SFGate reports. Witnesses told a different story. They said Perez-Lopez was running for his life, which is why he was shot in the back. 

The Perez-Lopez investigation went on for years, and in the end, the SFPD was never charged, but Police Chief Greg Suhr did resign from his post. However, it wasn’t just because of the pushback from the Perez-Lopez investigation but from multiple fatal shootings of unarmed people at the hands of the police. His parents eventually won a settlement from the SFPD

Aside from the artful depiction of Perez-Lopez, the mural also pays tribute to Black and brown people who have died as a result of police brutality as well as people who have died on the southern border.

Credit: amaya_papaya28 / Instagram

During the year in which he was killed, Perez-Lopez “was one of the 67 Latino people killed,” the Guardian reports. The publication adds that Perez-Lopez was also one of the 58 percent who was killed and unarmed. 

“‘Why didn’t you put in Jessica Williams?’ Or, ‘Why didn’t you put in this person?’ The truth of the matter is that we just didn’t have enough space,” Ippolito told the SFWeekly. “And I wish we could include a lot more.”

Ippolito said she and the rest of the mural team were confronted with the fact they didn’t have enough space to put every person that lost their life because of the SFPD. The mural is already one of the largest murals “to be painted in the Latino Cultural Corridor in a decade,” according to the local publication. 

“That was the hardest part,” Anna Lisa Escobedo, another artist on this project, said to SF Weekly. “From the community, a lot of people were saying, ‘We are missing this person, this person, this person.’ We could do five more murals and focus on people who had the same circumstances, and that is sad.”

This isn’t the first artwork that has honored Perez-Lopez.

Credit: msmichellemeow / Instagram

His painted portrait was seen throughout the streets of San Francisco when residents demanded justice in his death. A couple of months after he was killed, artist YESCKA painted a mural that included Perez-Lopez. The mural was painted on the sidewall of the gallery Red Poppy Art House, which is located just blocks two from where Perez-Lopez was shot and killed. 

The mural by Ippolito is pretty remarkable because of its use of bright colors, and the inclusion of Mexican motifs, both the Guatemalan and San Francisco landscape, and Perez-Lopez in his signature Giants baseball cap. But the mural is also representative of an altar of sorts. Perez-Lopez is pictured inside an altar, and the rest of the people that are honored in the painting are seen on prayer candles. 

The other deceased individuals on the mural include Roxana Hernandez, Claudia Patricia Gomez Gonzalez, and Oscar and Valeria Martinez, who died either on the southern border or in ICE custody. 

Credit: cialuart / Instagram

This mural is a perfect addition to the many outstanding paintings that the city of San Francisco has to offer. 

One of my favorite things to do when I am back in the Mission is to go on a walking tour to gaze at the stunning murals that depict the people of San Francisco, but also the history of our community.  

READ: One Of The Major Artists In The Chicano Art Movement Has Died At 75

Fired Police Officer Kneeling On George Floyd’s Neck Arrested In Connection With Death

Things That Matter

Fired Police Officer Kneeling On George Floyd’s Neck Arrested In Connection With Death

Stephen Maturen / Getty Images

George Floyd is the latest Black man killed by the police. The Minneapolis resident was allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 when police were called. The resulting arrest and death were captured on video and have gone viral on social media. Stephen Jackson, one of Floyd’s closest friends is rallying support against the police officers responsible.

Fired police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested for George Floyd’s death.

The news broke on the morning of May 29 the fired police officer Chauvin was arrested for Floyd’s death. Black leaders gathered at Minneapolis City Hall and cautiously celebrated the news of justice. Organizers and community members are not satisfied with one arrest. Protesters and organizers are calling for all of the officers involved in Floyd’s death to be arrested. He is being charged with thrid-degree murder and manslaughter.

Floyd’s arrested sparked national outrage and reignited the “I Can’t Breathe” protests. The death of Floyd reminded people or Eric Garner who told police he couldn’t breathe when he was killed in 2014.

Minneapolis has faced mounting pressure from around the country as protests have sprung up demanding justice. The nation has been watching images of Minneapolis on social media and news channels.

Stephen Jackson, a former NBA player and Floyd’s best friend, has taken to social media to grieve and organize.

Jackson took to Instagram when he first learned about Floyd’s death. Jackson shared that Floyd had moved to Minnesota to get his life back on track. Floyd was working as a truck driver and was changing his life, according to Jackson.

“This is what I’ve got to wake up to. This is what I’ve got to wake up to, huh? Floyd was my brother, man,” Jackson says in the video. “We called each other twin, bro. Everybody knows that me and Floyd called each other twin.”

Jackson adds: “My boy was doing what he was supposed to do and y’all killed my brother, man. I’m on my way to Minnesota, man. Whatever I can do. I can’t let this ride, dawg. Y’all not going to be mad until this hits your front door. It’s bullshit.”

The sentiment has been echoed by supporters of Floyd who are seeking justice.

Surveillance footage released from a restaurant where the arrest took place shows a different story than what was originally reported by the police. The police officers at the scene claimed that Floyd was resisting arrest and that that was when the officers attacked. According to released surveillance video, Floyd was not resisting arrest.

The four officers involved in the death have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department, but people are demanding justice.

Protests have popped up across the country as people demand justice for Floyd’s death. Derek Chauvin, the police officer identified as the man who knelt on Floyd’s neck till he died, has 18 complaints against him for excessive force. Protesters are demanding the Chauvin face charges for the death of Floyd.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who ran for the Democratic nomination, has been called out for not filing charges against Chauvin in the past.

Chauvin has a long record of excessive force and Sen. Klobuchar seemingly ignored it. According to The Guardian, Chauvin was involved in a police shooting of an unarmed man in 2006. Sen. Klobuchar was the Hennepin county attorney at the time and did not bring charges against Chauvin for his involvement in the 2006 shooting. Instead, the case went to a grand jury in 2008 where it was determined that no charges would be brought against the officers involved.

As of now, there are no plans from the police department to bring charges against the four former officers.

Mike Freeman, Hennepin County’s current attorney, told the press that there was evidence that supported the police officers. Freeman said that while the video is graphic, there is evidence supporting that the police did not commit a crime in the arrest.

The mayor of Minneapolis is pushing to Hennepin county attorney Mike Freeman to file charges.

“There are precedents and protocols sitting in the reserves of institutions just like this one that will give you about a thousand reasons not to do something,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told the press. “Not to speak out. Not to act so quickly. And I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: ‘Why is the man who killed George Floyd, not in jail?’

Other Hennepin County officials have expressed a similar concern. The pressure is mounting on the Minneapolis Police Department to arrest the officers involved in Floyd’s death in the hope of seeking justice.

READ: Horrific Footage Shows Police Officers Shooting Teen In The Back Of The Head And His Partner’s Response Is Shocking

‘Side Hustle’ Episode 2: Nude Modeling And Friend Rentals

Things That Matter

‘Side Hustle’ Episode 2: Nude Modeling And Friend Rentals

mitú / dorainwoodmusic / Instagram

Side hustles aren’t just limited to freelance writing gigs. There is a vast world of side hustles that can make people a lot of money. Some of them involve art, modeling, and unusual rentals that people would need. That is what the second episode of mitú original series “Side Hustle” is all about.

“That’s not art. That’s you being nude.”

Dorian Wood and Tatyana are young Latinos trying to make it in this wild world in which we live. While some people rely on a regular 9-5 job to make everything work, these two people found a way to take something they like to do and make it profitable.

Wood is using his body to make money and a name for himself with a global audience. His art is something that some people just don’t understand but he is beloved in the art world for his performance art. His nude body is the subject of his work and he has been featured in art shows around the world.

Tatyana is a college student working her way through college like so many others. However, she is taking a different route to pay for her college courses instead of working a retail job. What she has to offer is friendship and it’s paying off.

Wood might be celebrated for his art but his mom has some thoughts.

“I did a show in Madrid and this artist comes up to me after the show and offers to do a mural of me so I just said, ‘Okay. What have I got to lose?’ A few months later he sends me this video of him putting the finishing touches on a four-story mural in Segovia in Spain of me completely naked and my jaw just dropped,” Wood tells co-host David Alvarez. “‘El Gordo’ is what they called the mural. It somehow just triggered something in me. I was like, ‘Oh. Okay. What if I tried art modeling?'”

Wood admits that his friends and family are a little confused by his work. He adds: “They think I’m insane. My mother sees me posing nude and doing nude performance art and she’ll tell me in Spanish like, ‘You know. That’s not art. That’s you being nude.'”

Tatyana loves to make friends and now that makes her some money.

“This is just a way for me to pay for classes,” Tatyana explains to co-host Sahsa Merci. “There was a list of 100 things you could do to make side money and I checked a bunch of them out. The Rent-A-Friend seemed like something I could be good at. So, I started it and I really liked how it was.”

Tatyana says that “it was definitely a little too delicate to talk about at first.” She added. “They know that I enjoy making new friends so for me to get some benefit out of it, also financial help for my school, they were happy about that.”

READ: Cuddling And Wrestling Are Just Two Ways To Make Money On The Side