Prayers and political speeches filled the air Friday morning as dozens gathered on the front steps of City Hall to protest the shooting of a Chinese-American journalist in the Philippines on Tuesday.
Community leaders, friends, human rights advocates joined Supervisor Gordon Mar in a rally and press conference to draw attention to the shooting of San Francisco native Brandon Lee.
Lee, a reporter for the Northern Dispatch, was shot four times as he was coming home in the Ifugao province in the Philippines. Protesters believe he was targeted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Lee, 37, underwent surgery to remove a bullet in his jaw and remained in critical condition as of Friday afternoon.
“The attack on Brandon is an attack on advocates for human rights and freedom everywhere,” said Mar, who met Lee when Lee was a student at SFSU.
Some protesters held up signs saying “Justice for Brandon Lee,” or “Stop the attack.”
Protesters called for a thorough investigation of the shooting and for ending military aid to president Rodrigo Duterte’s “death squad.”
“While Duterte’s human rights abuses are well known and internationally condemned, the United States continues to provide millions in military aid to the Philippines every year,” said Mar in a statement.
Melissa Reyes, 31 and Lee’s friend, described Lee as “very kind, smiley and passionate.”
Kristen Sajonas, 37, is another longtime Lee’s friend. She met Lee in 2005 and last saw him when she went to the Philippines in 2014.
“I remember telling him ‘please don’t die,’ before I left,” said Sajonas.
Lee told Sajonas he was put under surveillance by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and there was other evidence that suggests that he was being targeted.
Jennifer Nguyen-Liu, 35, has known Lee since 2000 when they were students at Abraham Lincoln High School.
Nguyen-Liu said Lee became a political activist during high school and “puts everyone before himself.”
Nguyen-Liu invited Lee to her wedding in 2010 but he never came.
“Philippines was already calling him,” smiled Nguyen-Liu.