Hundreds Gather To Protest Police Shooting Of Teen With Toy Gun

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Santa Rosa and in cities throughout the Bay Area and the state today to protest the police killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez in Sonoma County last month as well as what they say is an epidemic of police brutality.

The protests in Santa Rosa, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento Los Angeles and elsewhere were part of a “National Day of Action for Andy Lopez” organized by the Answer Coalition and the California Statewide Coalition Against Police Brutality.

Andy was walking and holding a toy AK-47 rifle in rural Sonoma County the afternoon of Oct. 22 when county sheriff’s deputies on patrol in the area spotted him and yelled for him to drop the weapon, according to the sheriff’s office.

When the boy turned toward the deputies, Deputy Erick Gelhaus, 48, shot him seven times, according to authorities.

Andy’s family has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Gelhaus and the county.

The killing has sparked outrage within the community, state and nationwide, with many decrying the incident as a tragic example of police brutality that protesters say often targets low-income black and Latino citizens.

“We are heartbroken and outraged that Andy Lopez was murdered by Erick Gelhaus of the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department,” said Christina Arechiga, an organizer with the California Statewide Coalition Against Police Brutality. “We demand police terror on American citizens stop immediately. We demand Justice for Andy Lopez, his family and his community.”

During today’s protest in Santa Rosa, volunteers were in the process stories from attendees about their own experiences with police brutality, Arechiga said.

“A lot of people are afraid to come forward, but in light of the Lopez family’s courage and these community gatherings, there’s a lot of stories being told,” said Arechiga, whose cousin Ernest Duenez, Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in Manteca two years ago.

In Oakland this afternoon, more than 100 protesters took part in the national day of action, marching from the Fruitvale BART station to the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, said Answer Coalition organizer Michelle Schudel.

Schudel said people came from throughout the East Bay to protest Andy’s killing and to stand in solidarity with his family and others who have lost loved ones to police fire.

She said the killing is similar to what people “have to deal with in Oakland and in San Francisco, where police are brutalizing and targeting our families, our communities for being African American or Latino.”

Organizers said more than 100 protesters gathered for about an hour this afternoon at the 24th and Mission BART station in San Francisco to speak out against Andy’s death.

Laura Dixon, Bay City News

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  • Sooneridver

    If the child had done as directed… lay the rifle on the ground instead of turning towards the police officer he would be alive today! And when this incident first happened it was pointed out that the child spoke (understood) perfect English; so a language problem is NOT an issue. If the protestors really want to stop some of the problems with “toy” guns get the manufacturer’s to stop making them so life like. Where was the ‘orange’ tip that is required on all toy guns?

    This was a tragic incident, but NOT murder or police brutality!

    • Thunder Leon

      Wait! … You must be a cop worshiper. Only a cop worshiper can be so blind to even attempt to blame the boy who did nothing wrong. He did what any human being would have done when someone yells out to them, turn around to see who is calling out. Your thinking is crooked and I know most cops will support the deputy instead of what’s is facts, and what is just because that’s what cops do…. Put their gangster partners first before what’s right, before truth, and definitely before you, me and now I guess before innocent children.

      • JB fairness

        I second that, agreed. Too many cops taking lives of innocent citizens in this country, especially in poor and ethnic communities of vulnerability. My heart goes out too those mothers and daughters in these latino communities who have to tolerate this cop intimidation and terror by cops in their neighborhoods. Hope they can find proper justice. Its getting to be unsafe for citizens to leave their home, especially those of poorer classes

        • Thunder Leon

          Well I’m glad really to see that there is still hope for America because when Americans are willing to accept, and tolerate cops murdering our children walking home then this is no longer America but some communist nation with duel economies and duel citizens. Those who are the servants who must abide by laws and serve their masters the governmentemployees. They are paid twice as much for half the work. They have all the power and authority with no accountability even to kill children on the street as we will see here and yet there are morons who worship these thugs making up any conceivableexcuse to convince themselves that everything is ok when it’s not, it’s not…. ITS NOT OK HERE IN AMERICA when governmentis the tyrant.

          • JB fairness

            At least one can find comfort knowing that morals are the rule and not the exception in society. Hopefully, with that framework, things will improve sooner.

    • Thunder Leon

      Yes it was…. And of the worse kind. Coward thugs that hide behind unchecked authority because of cop worshipers like you that will make up excuses for these thugs and blame the child, the toy manufacture, the parents, the congessman and everyone except the armed and supposedly train profesional thug that pulled the trigger. Your almost as bad as the mother excusing seven Torrance police officers for firing 109 rounds at two elderly women delivering newspapers. Two of those bullets entered the room when here children were sleeping. She said, “they have a tough job.” killing children is tough huh!! Please sir…. Think about what is happening here

  • dawdler

    Assuming the sparse facts here are true, I wouldn’t call this police brutality. But it does sound like a police mistake. If the training is that after you yell to a person if they turn around you shoot them, then the training needs to be changed. If that’s not the training, then we need to understand why the officers shot the boy just because he turned around. Did he point the gun at them? Hard to judge this situation as the facts are sparse and probably unreliable.

    • Thunder Leon

      Fair enough but ten seconds from the moment the call was made to the moment an ambulance is called reveals that the boy was not given a chance to live. You and I know deep in our hearts that the boy was not given a chance. It takes at least 5 seconds to fire off the seven rounds. People are in denial that cops want to shoot people and now children. What is it gonna take to open the eyes of the citizens?

    • Thunder Leon

      One more thing a mistake that results in the death of human life is called In this case is called Criminally negligent manslaughter.