2 families of SFPD shooting victims join in solidarity march

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The families of two men shot and killed by San Francisco police officers met for the first time Wednesday night at a ‘Solidarity Night March’ that started with a gathering at Bernal Heights Park.

The parents and friends of 28-year-old Alex Nieto paid tribute at the spot where he was shot by police almost two years ago.

"Right now, we just have to show unity and strength in numbers and just ask for the community to come out and support us-- the family, but not just the family. Today it's our family. Tomorrow it might be yours," said Maria, a cousin of Nieto's.

His parents led supporters on the march to the Bayview to join the family of Mario Woods, the 26-year-old shot and killed by police last month.

At 3rd and Palou streets, dozens attended a rally for Woods before marching to the police station where both groups converged and officers stood guard.

Woods' mother, Gwendolyn, was emotional as she confronted officers. Tensions eased as supporters formed a circle.

The mothers of Woods and Nieto came together for a symbolic ritual. They joined hands, shared hot chocolate and broke bread.
"Two communities coming together at one table to share food, pain, sorrow and power," said Oscar Salinas, a Nieto family friend.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association will be releasing a new radio ad; the latest in a series, in response to criticism of police officers' use of force.

The police union president also spoke specifically about Woods' actions before he was shot.
"The deceased stabbed a citizen. He ignored all de-escalation efforts and refused to put down his knife. Almost all the officers involved were minorities," said Martin Halloran.

Mayor Ed Lee responded to criticism over Woods' death by calling for reforms to make sure police use of lethal force is the last resort.

An attorney for the Woods family said the officers involved should be disciplined.

"We want the chief, the city, to take a serious look at the policies and procedures around arrest or even interacting with persons," said DeWitt Lacy .

The solidarity march and gathering in front of the police station ended peacefully.