Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Latest Incident in Sonoma County re: Harassment of Latino Youth

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

UPDATE, according to a spokesperson from Andy's Youth, among the young women attacked, two are with sprained wrists, one with inflammation or large bruises on back, and one has a jawline bruised from being pushed against car.

DA Jill Ravitch Says Justified – We say homicide!
Protest Rally Tuesday followed by police beating of 3 young girls -- all Members of Andy’s Youth!
Hands Off Our Youth – Justice for Andy Lopez!
When: Saturday July 12th @ 1pm 
Where: Old Courthouse Square (downtown Santa Rosa)

Over a hundred Justice Activists picketed and rallied on the sidewalk in front of Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch’s office the day after she announced a whitewash and full exoneration of any criminal charges against Deputy Erick Gelhaus who shot and killed 13-year old Andy Lopez as he walked on a public thoroughfare swinging a toy airsoft gun. Within 10 seconds the 7 shots left Andy dead despite his young age and boyhood innocence.
Latino Community Organizer and father of 10 in Santa Rosa, Alfredo Sanchez spoke in both Spanish and English, “Jill Ravitch has declared open season for law enforcement to shoot, harass and intimidate the Brown youth of Santa Rosa. By not finding the murdering cop Gelhaus chargeable of a criminal offense after he assassinated a 13-year old boy, DA Ravitch has flashed a green light for law enforcement to continue to attack our children in our own Latino communities. All they need to do is shoot one of our kids and declare they feared for their life from a mere child.”
An incident within minutes of Mr. Sanchez’s proclamation at the rally, sadly confirmed what he had just uttered as a warning to the community. Three 13 and 14 year old girls, members of Andy’s Youth, none over 5 feet were on their way home from the rally at the DA’s office where they had stood proudly with a banner demanding Justice for Andy. The police handcuffed the youth, slammed at least one girl’s head into a squad car, and sent all three youngsters for medical care with bruises and swollen wrists from overly tight handcuffs.
Before law enforcement left, they warned the Youth they were now on “gang terms” meaning they could no longer associate with their friends or anyone alleged to be affiliated with a gang. In fact, the “gang term” label is meant to suppress the Youth’s free speech and free assembly rights of the youth, despite constitutional protections to the contrary. In the squad car, the police launched into a vicious assault on Andy Lopez proclaiming “they” had won as Erick Gelhaus was back to work.
This unjustified assault by law enforcement on these three young activists was intended to inflict both physical and emotional pain. As Alfredo Sanchez said at the rally, “Our children are afraid to play outside. A 911 call is a death sentence. The police are occupying our community, but not for our benefit!”
The dual themes for the Saturday rally will be to continue to demand Justice for Andy Lopez and Hands Off Our Youth! Supporters from all over the Bay Area are mobilizing to join Lopez protestors in Santa Rosa on Saturday.

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