Santa Rosa, California:

Andy Lopez Killer Set Free—People Stand Firm Fighting Injustice!

July 14, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


From a reader:

On October 22 last year, in an open field where children play in Santa Rosa, CA, trigger-happy cop Erick Gelhaus shot seven times in 11 seconds and killed 13-year-old Andy Lopez, while the boy was walking with a toy gun. In the following days and months, hundreds of youth from middle and high schools poured out into the streets in protest along with others who supported them and hate police brutality, drawing nationwide attention to this horrific murder of the young Latino boy by an Iraq war veteran cop; and demanding the indictment for murder and immediate firing of Gelhaus.

The District Attorney, Jill Ravitch, dragged her feet for almost nine months in a very obvious attempt to let things die down, before finally announcing the decision on July 7 to drop all charges on Gelhaus. In her 100-page report of bullshit “justification” for the killer cop, there is additional “blame” attributed to Andy for having marijuana in his system, as if this is justification for murdering him. After the DA issued her decision in a hastily called press conference, a rally was quickly assembled by Friends of Andy Lopez, neighbors and local activists, including Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez. Almost 100 people gathered in the Latino Roseland section of the city, and a number of them marched a few miles to the spot where Andy was killed. Along the route, there was much vocal support from the neighbors, while the cops strategically placed themselves out of sight. At Andy’s Park, a makeshift press conference took place.

Image of Andy Lopez carried by protesters in Santa Rosa, Calif. Lopez was shot and killed by a Sonoma County deputy who mistook an airsoft type gun Lopez was carrying for an assault rifle. Oct. 2013. Photo: AP

The mother of one of Andy’s childhood friends said, “[Jill Ravitch] is giving permission to the deputies to kill our children and kill us—people in the community—and get a paid vacation and no repercussions.” A lawyer for the family spoke for the parents saying, “It’s as if Andy were killed all over again.” And one of the kids added “we’re living in terror.” A leaflet from the RCP, which was read and distributed widely, read in part, “They want everyone to get the message: the police are never to blame, the people are always to blame. If you are Black, Mexican, young, or anybody the police feel is out of their place, it could happen to you, it could happen to anyone, anytime, at the slightest excuse or no excuse at all.” The leaflet continues, “We don’t need to calm down. We don’t need conciliators. We do NOT need more cops. We DO need to rise up against injustice! Andy’s murderer must be put on trial! We demand justice for Andy Lopez!”

On the following day, July 8, friends of Andy Lopez held a rally at the district attorney’s office, an event not only attended by youth and activists from Santa Rosa, but also youths from Stockton in the Central Valley of California who were involved in the fight against police murder there. In contrast to previous rallies where the police confronted the people with a line of heavily armed SWAT cops, this time the cops kept a low profile, in an attempt to avoid open confrontations. As some youth shouted on their bullhorns through the office doors, other youth decorated the complex with chalking (“Fuck the Police” “We are all Andy Lopez, the whole damn system is guilty,” etc.). In a cowardly act a few hours after the rally ended, at another location a cop confronted 3 of the teenage girls, which resulted in them being handcuffed and bruised before being let go to be checked out at a hospital. People hearing about this enraged many in the community, who are looking into following up on this.

A third rally is being called for the weekend and being built widely to attract outside communities. The day of the decision to let the cop go was covered very widely by mainstream media in the entire San Francisco Bay Area; and especially in the Spanish media. And this is coming in the wake of attacks on immigrant people in Murrieta, Latino people in Salinas, and elsewhere! The situation is urgent that people do stand up, remain firm, intensify the struggle and turn this around! Justice for Andy Lopez!


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