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Andy Lopez - Reflections on his 14th Birthday - a Birthday Deprived
Today, I just keep thinking about Andy Lopez and his family. I am thinking about how young Andy Lopez never lived to see his 14th birthday, thanks to murdering Deputy Erick Gelhaus.
On October 22, 2013, 13-year-old Andy Lopez was walking in a field in broad daylight, in his neighborhood. He was on his way to one of his friend's homes, doing nothing criminal, doing nothing wrong, just a child, on his way to see his friend. Suddenly, with no warning, within seconds, he was ambushed and killed in cold blood by Gelhaus, a trained assassin from the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department.
Why was Gelhaus even present in this largely Latino Santa Rosa community? The answer to this question lies in the decades-old analogy: "The police occupy our community like a military troop occupies a foreign territory. They are there to brutalize and kill us because they have their orders to do so."
On the day of Andy's murder, no crime had been committed or reported so Gelhaus was simply on a seek-and-destroy mission. He did what he and others like him are paid to do, without fear of public outrage or punishment. Gelhaus knew that there was no chance of prosecution because the Sonoma County District Attorney is on the same racist, reactionary team which includes judges, city government officials and big money political supporters. In the end, they believe that the law is what they say it is.
On the other hand, as in times past, the community and Andy's loving family members, are still demanding to know when District Attorney Ravitch is going to divulge the results of her investigation to the public. What are the results of her "prolonged investigation" of the killing of this child, Andy Lopez, by this "servant of the people", Erick Gelhaus?
Jill Ravitch has the office, the money and all the tools to get the job done that she was (supposedly) elected to do. Why doesn't she do it? Past history and present events show us that the systemic failure to deal with these injustices has resulted in the continued loss of lives at the hands of Law Enforcement agencies in Sonoma County - a loss of sixty-one human beings since 2000 - 61 human beings who mattered to their families... and to us.
Elbert "Big Man" Howard
Santa Rosa, CA
June 2, 2014
"Big Man" Howard is a founding member of the Black Panther Party, and an author, lecturer, and community activist in Sonoma County.