Santa Rosa, California:

Police Kill 13-Year-Old Andy Lopez... People Fight Back

October 28, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

Nationally, October 22 has been a date to expose the epidemic of police brutality and murder that goes on across the U.S., especially against minorities. This year, as people in dozens of cities across this capitalist-imperialist state mobilized to protest in memory of those who have fallen to the brutality of the armed police, yet another innocent child lost his life on the very day dedicated to the opposition to police brutality. Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old from Santa Rosa, California, was gunned down within a matter of seconds by what many have come to address as "trigger happy police." Andy was walking on a rural road, carrying a toy replica BB gun to a friend's house. According to witnesses, two Sonoma County sheriffs in a patrol car pulled up behind Andy, and one of the sheriffs said something to him and immediately opened fire. According to the police, one of the sheriffs fired eight shots within 26 seconds, and a police autopsy reports that Andy was hit seven times with two fatal wounds. Witnesses claim that police yelled at him from behind, and when he turned to see who was yelling, they immediately opened fire. Witnesses also claim that the sheriff continued to shoot the boy as he lay on the ground!

Andy Lopez, killed by police in Santa Rosa, CA

Andy Lopez. Photo released by family.

Andy's mother and father are devastated by the loss of their son, but are fighting back! They and many others are organizing themselves to protest this unjust murder. People we have talked to at protests and vigils have felt a mixture of grief and anger, and have also held marches searching for justice for their loss of a friend, brother, son, and classmate in this community of working class minorities.

On October 25, a walkout from Santa Rosa High School, joined by several junior high students, marched, altogether 300+ strong, to the sheriff's office, and we talked to several youth who had known Andy since kindergarten.

"Race matters a lot here" is what one resident commented, adding, "Being Hispanic here, you're more of a target." Many people asked how a young boy, only 13 years old, could be seen as a threat by two grown men, supposedly "law enforcement professionals." Several parents told us their own teenagers also had air guns for sport or shooting cans and worried that their children too could be in mortal danger. A number of people mentioned Trayvon Martin's murder and how minority youth are racially profiled and seen as "suspicious" just because of the color of their skin. People told us that if Andy was a young boy walking down the street of a nearby more affluent white neighborhood, the cops might have acted differently, but in a poor working class Latino area, the cops already see the masses as the enemy and not worthy of such precautions!

The vigils and protests have been constant since this murder. At one evening vigil at the murder site, a 100 or so folks were sharing their grief around a memorial of pictures and candles which outlined the letters AL. We talked to some of the folks, sharing a copy of Revolution, and we had a big enlargement of the BAsics 1:24 quote (on the "role of the police").

The enlargement had a photo of two huge pigs putting all their weight on a Black man they had on the ground, along with other photos of police pepper spraying UC Davis students and brutalizing those in Occupy Oakland. This caused a lot to stop and read the quote in the context of this brutality.

All of a sudden, 100+ youth (many junior high) marched up the street yelling "ANDY, ANDY" and "justice for Andy" and "fuck the police."

Many of these youth knew Andy from way back in elementary school and described him as a boy who would make them happy. Others felt a sense of shared loss, even if they didn't know him, also realizing that it could have been any one of them instead of Andy! This gave meaning to the October 22 slogan when we talk about the CRIMINALIZATION OF A GENERATION, and that it has to STOP!

These youth are the future, but the truth is that if they are to have a future and if humanity is also to have a future, these youth have to become part of the movement for revolution. We told the youth that we came from Oakland to be there with the protests and to stand with them in their "justice for Andy Lopez." They grabbed at Revolution newspaper, hungry to find out more. We shared our chants from October 22 with them; and they got on the bullhorn to yell "Andy didn't have to die, we all know the reason why, the whole system is guilty." And they also liked "Whose world? Our world. Is it the pigs' world? Hell NO."

To hear a big group of teens who are told all the time by enforcers of this system that their lives, hopes, and dreams are nothing, just dirt—to hear these youth chanting that the world and the future is theirs, means a lot! We need, humanity needs a lot more of the new generation on a mission to bury this capitalist system.

Santa Rosa is 50 miles north of San Francisco, mixed with both more affluent sections, but also many working class, Latino, and immigrant neighborhoods. People there do work cleaning offices, working in restaurants, and other service jobs; and also working in vineyards and other agriculture jobs for long hours with low pay. There is little respect in these neighborhoods for the police who lurk around at night checking on expired plates and harassing the youth.

Seven bullets found at the autopsy inside the body of Andy show not an attempt to "protect themselves" as the cops claim, but more the assassination of a child. Too many have fallen from a system that forces minorities into poverty and living conditions that jeopardize their lives. Only after this system that nurtures discrimination is overthrown by the people, is swept away by revolution, will the fear of being targeted disappear.

When you see Andy's mother and father at the vigil and protest, your heart breaks, but you are proud of their courage. You cannot help but be reminded of Trayvon Martin's parents and the thousands of others like them thrust into a situation where their child or loved one is stolen from them. Just regular people, thrust into an extraordinary situation and having to shoulder a lot! They and the whole community are determined to keep the fight going for "justice for Andy" until that justice is delivered. The family has set up a Facebook page, Justice for Andy Lopez, and we will continue to follow this.


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