Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mothers in White, and a Founding Member of the Black Panther Party, Protests the Killing of Andy Lopez by Sonoma County at Board of Supervisors meeting

Justice for Andy Lopez Cruz! (d. 2013-10-22; Santa Rosa) [link]

Mothers in White to Converge on the Sonoma County Supervisors en Masse (with mirrors)
Jan. 7th @ 1:30 pm at 575 Administration Dr.
Contact: Dara @ [707 206-8565] [] or Jon [415 806-0154] [ ]
On October 22nd Sheriff Erick Gelhaus pumped round after round of lead into the prostate body of 13-year old Andy Lopez as he lay next to the toy airsoft gun he was carrying in an abandoned lot used as a play ground by neighborhood children in the mostly Latino area of Roseland in unincorporated Santa Rosa. Despite widespread demonstrations, petitions, letters to the editor and biting criticism of the shooting, Sheriff Gelhaus was returned to work by the Sonoma County Sheriffs Department after an opaque, non-public review of his “administrative actions” in shooting Andy.
On January 7th, the first Sonoma County Board of Supervisors meeting in 2014, a large contingent of Mothers in White from towns all over Sonoma County will confront the Board of Supervisors with dozens of mirrors in hand. In response to dozens of angry community members demanding redress at the Nov. 5th County Board meeting, Supervisor Mike McGuire responded that it was time to take a “hard look in the mirror” – not hard enough for us!
At the Jan. 7th Supervisors meeting, we will dress in white and carry mirrors to hold up to the Supervisors so they can take a “hard look in [our] mirror” and answer the questions – why have they done nothing to punish Sheriff Gelhaus for murder; why has he been returned to work without a transparent disclosure of how the Sonoma County Sheriffs’ Department found NO WRONGDOING; why did the Board totally fail to implement the suggestions by the 2000 US Commission on Civil Rights aimed at improving police procedures and lessening the number of civilian deaths.
Mirror, mirror on the wall – Supervisors are responsible to us all!

Elbert “Big Man” Howard, one of founding members of the Black Panther Party, issued a year-end, strongly worded indictment of Deputy Erick Gelhaus’ killing of 13-year old Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, CA on Oct. 22nd, 2013. Big Man, a Black Panther from 1966 to 1974, served as Deputy Minister of Information, was a member of the Central Committee and the International Solidarity Committee and was the first editor of the BPP newspaper, which reached a circulation of 250,000 per week at its height.
“When the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in 1966, one of our central platform points was the critical need to stop the rampant police brutality and murder in Black and other communities across America. We demanded Community Control of Police in hopes of ending this violent occupation of our communities by law enforcement. Now, almost 50 years later, it’s an immoral tragedy that a thirteen-year-old child was gunned down viciously in a hail of bullets in Santa Rosa. Had we been successful in establishing Community Control of the police, Andy Lopez might be alive today, celebrating the New Year with his family.”
In the mid-70’s, as the police and FBI gunned down and arrested Panthers in Chicago, LA, New York and elsewhere, and the Black Panther Party started to disintegrate, Big Man left the Bay Area. Decades later, upon his return to Northern California, as a community activist, he helped found the Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline (PACH), an all-volunteer organization. PACH, an all-volunteer organization, was formedto take reports of police misconduct and document police abuse, after community meetings that occurred because of a series of police killings that took place in 2007.
“At the Sonoma County Board ofSupervisors Meeting on Jan. 7th, I will be making a formal Statement on behalf of PACH and myself in response to the killing of Andy Lopez and in support of the Mothers in White.”
Big Man's statement will be read to the Supervisors on Jan 7th and will be available to the media.
Contact Elbert "Big Man" Howard at [] [901-921-0493], or Jon Melrod [415-806-0154] 

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