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On Oct 22, 2013, two days after Big Man’s 47th Black Panther Party Anniversary Celebration, held in Santa Rosa, ended, a beautiful child,13-year-old Andy Lopez, was gunned down and shot to death by Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018, five years later, the Board of Supervisors for the county reached a settlement with Lopez’ parents for $3 million. This settlement does not mean Erick Gelhaus is clear of any civil liability.
On Oct. 22, 2013, in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County, Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus shot and killed unarmed, 13-year-old Andy Lopez without cause. Gelhaus, a trained weapons instructor and firearms expert, fired eight shots at Andy, hitting him seven times. So here we are, almost three years later and now the news that Deputy Gelhaus has been promoted to sergeant. This is outrageous.
Block Report Radio interviews Wil B about the charges that can land him in prison for eight and a half years after being arrested at an anti-police terrorism rally a year ago in Los Angeles. Some of Wil’s 13 codefendants have taken plea deals, but he says that he will fight the charges until the end and declare his innocence. Please read the attached letter to the faith community calling for folks to contact LA Prosecutor Mike Feuer and ask him to DROP THESE CHARGES.
March 21 marks the seventh anniversary of one of the biggest events in Oakland history and in the nation’s fight against police terror in recent times. I am talking about the police murder of Lovelle Mixon two months after the videotaped police execution of Oscar Grant. Mixon’s fearlessness, audacity and strength in the heat of battle against the police, who have been rampantly killing Black people in Oakland’s Black community with impunity for decades, created a snowball effect of frustration and courage, which, in combination with the half a dozen rebellions in downtown Oakland surrounding the Grant case, pushed the tide of popular opinion in California towards the conviction of Mehserle.
In the wake of the brutal police execution of Mario Woods by San Francisco police in Bayview Hunters Point, many are asking where is California state Attorney General Kamala Harris? She was elected with the hope and expectation, naive as it may be, that she of all people would be out there weighing in and demanding justice for Mario. Sadly Harris has thus far been pretty much absent from the fight.
It has been two years since 13-year-old Andy Lopez was shot down while walking to his friend’s house with a toy gun, killed by Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus. Gelhaus still patrols the streets of Santa Rosa, free and unprosecuted, as Andy’s family, friends and supporters continue to seek and demand justice. Now comes this most recent local news: A lawsuit, filed Oct. 5 by attorney Izaak Schwaiger and the Scott Law Firm, exposes Sonoma County as the “jail from hell.”
I am proposing that a fund or funds be set up in memory of Andy Lopez to help students, especially Latino students and other disenfranchised students of color, who are in need of financial support and are struggling to achieve the goal of higher education. I strongly urge that the district attorney, the sheriff, the City Council and the Board of Supervisors, as well as all law enforcement agencies, contribute to these efforts.
When I first heard about Andy, I had no doubt that there would be no justice coming from the D.A.’s office; it will come from the people. Expecting the D.A. to provide justice in this case would be like asking Israel to stop shelling Palestine. The oppressors will never police themselves. But what did give me hope was seeing the people rising up in Santa Rosa demanding an end to state terror.
The joy of fatherhood can quickly be interrupted by unexpected twists and turns in daily life. We do our best to prepare our children for these occasions – let’s call them “bumps in the road” – that we know they will inevitably face. Over the past 30 years or so, the ever increasing presence of law enforcement in the lives of our children has created new challenges for them as well as for us as parents.
The standing-room-only town hall was yelling above the police as they spoke about the murder on March 21 of young Raza organizer, City College of San Francisco student and beloved son de la mision (of the Mission), Alejandro Nieto, 28, by police in Bernal Heights Park. Join the march on Saturday, March 29, for Alex Nieto at 2 p.m. from Mission Cultural Center, 2868 Mission St., to Bernal Heights Park, San Francisco.
In what increasingly appears to be a concerted whitewash of the Oct. 22 shooting of 13-year old Andy Lopez by Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus, DA Jill Ravitch and the Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) continued to maintain an impenetrable cloak of silence blanketing the “investigative report” into Deputy Gelhaus’ murder of toy gun touting Andy Lopez.
When we got to the memorial site at the park, just to the right, Andy’s mother, Sujey, started crying, then wailing loudly. Her husband held her as she buried herself in his chest and arms. A small group of women surrounded them, as tortured sounds of grief poured out of her, heart-rending sounds that I cannot really describe. Some of us formed a loose circle around them. Everyone was quiet.
Because of Andy Lopez’ killing, the main focus of many people I know is on youth executions at the hands of law enforcement. I see this in terms of a broader context, i.e. the long-range agendas of the right-wing Republican Party. The week-to-week shooting deaths of our Black, Brown and other youth by so-called law enforcement must be studied in the context of the systemic all-over picture. Clearly, there is a pattern and a plan there, if one would just look closely.
Folks all over the Bay Area have grown weary of brutality by out of control police, from the murder of unarmed 13-year-old Andy Lopez last month in Santa Rosa to Alan Blueford in Oakland to 61-year-old disabled Andrea Naharro, shot this past weekend in San Jose. Valencia Gardens is in the historic Mission District, currently undergoing massive gentrification. As more white folks have been moving in, many Black and Brown folks are being profiled and stopped by police.
The child’s destination was a friend’s house on a bright sunny day. The child had a toy. But Andy Lopez Cruz didn’t see his friend that day. Andy will not ever see any of his friends again. For within 10 seconds, the cops had rolled up behind him, reported him as suspicious, called for backup and shot him seven times. He was shot twice in the back before he hit the ground; he got a chance to scream “Stop” once and then he died.
Police brutality protests are being held all over California Saturday – including Santa Rosa – to protest the brutal murder Oct. 22 of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Santa Rosa sheriff’s deputy and the culture of killings perpetrated by law enforcement against citizens in the state. The event in Santa Rosa will focus on gathering stories and testimonials from the community about police brutality in Sonoma County.
On Wednesday, Oct. 30, join a mass march and vigil for Andy Lopez, 13, gathering in Roseland (Sebastopol Road near Dutton) at 5 p.m., marching to Courthouse Square for a 6:30 rally and carrying candles back to Roseland. On Oct. 22, the very day we recognize as the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality, this 13-year-old child was shot down and killed by Sonoma County sheriff’s deputies. We must form alliances within our community in order to deal with this issue of misconduct by law enforcement. We must do it now before someone else’s child lies dead at the age of 13.