More Than 1,000 Attend Andy Lopez Protest Rally in Santa Rosa

Pallbearers, many of whom were classmates of Andy Lopez, carry the casket at his funeral. (Rachel Dornhelm / KQED)
Pallbearers, many of whom were classmates of Andy Lopez, carry the casket at his funeral. (Rachel Dornhelm / KQED)

Update, 5:35 p.m.

The Associated Press is reporting that more than 1,000 people marched at the rally this afternoon in Santa Rosa to protest the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez.

The protesters, including middle- and high-school-age students and members of the Occupy movement, assembled in downtown Santa Rosa before marching through streets with signs and hooded sweatshirts bearing photos of the boy.

"Andy Lopez did not have to die," they chanted during the nearly three-hour, mostly peaceful demonstration. No arrests were made.

The protest was large for Santa Rosa, Paul Gullixson, editorial director of the Press Democrat, told KQED's Mina Kim.

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"I've just never seen anything like that. But I think the frustration, the emotion is really high," Gullixson said. "They're just trying to get their heads around what it was that motivated this deputy to fire the shots."

Andy's memorial service began at 5 p.m. at the Resurrection Parish Church in Santa Rosa. The church, which can hold 600, had an overflow crowd. The service was led by Associate Pastor Jose Gonzalez.

The Oct. 22 shooting of Lopez, by Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus, sparked community outrage and an FBI investigation.

According to the AP, Gelhaus is a "firearms instructor who authorities said mistook a pellet gun carried by Lopez for an assault rifle.

Investigators say the hoodie-wearing teen didn't comply with commands to drop the gun and was turning toward deputies while raising the barrel when he was shot seven times.

"In the state of California we have a lot of laws that cover the protection of privacy of police officers and as a result of that, a lot of these complaints about police conduct, full reports are rarely made public," Gullixon said. "The question is ultimately what will come of that and how much will people know of what actually transpired."

Marchers at the rally protesting the shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez today in Santa Rosa. (Rachel Dornhelm / KQED)
Marchers at the rally protesting the shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez today in Santa Rosa. (Rachel Dornhelm / KQED)

The rally was "emotional, there was real pain," but peaceful, according to KQED reporter Rachel Dornhelm. The Bay City News reported that at the rally, "at least a dozen deputies wearing riot helmets were standing behind the barricade. About 10 others were on the roof of the building, watching the crowd with binoculars. Another deputy was filming the protesters."

The AP spoke to several students in the march:

Victor Manieri, 15, a freshman at Elsie Allen High School, left school early to join the march. He said he knew Andy and wanted to show his support for Andy's family.

"I disagree with what that cop did that day," Manieri said. "There are other methods such as using a Taser that would paralyze him, not take away his life."

Mitzi Reyes, 16, a junior at Elsie Allen, marched with her mother and two younger brothers. They also knew Andy and his family.

"I'm here today because I want to get justice not only for Andy but for other people that have died for no reason," she said.

KQED's Mina Kim spoke to Gullixson about local reaction to the shooting.

Live coverage from Bay Area reporters:

From yesterday's Press Democrat:

The outcry over the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez is expected to reach a new level Tuesday, when activists from well beyond Sonoma County and the Bay Area will join local supporters of the Lopez family in a march on the Sheriff's Office.

County offices, the courthouse and City Hall will all close at lunchtime Tuesday as local officials brace for the largest demonstration yet since the Oct. 22 shooting.

KRON 4 reports that Santa Rosa school officials, as well as school district administrators and elected school board members, urged students to stay in class during the protest march.

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Here's a Storify from KRON 4:

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