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Andy’s Youth Suspended from School Over 6 month Anniversary Protest
At 7:55am Tuesday morning dozens of Andy’s Youth gathered in front of Cook Middle School in Santa Rosa to commemorate the 6-month anniversary of 13-year old Andy Lopez murdered 6 months ago by Sonoma County Deputy Sheriff Erick Gelhaus. The students held up signs in front of the school demanding that DA Ravitch immediately indict Deputy Gelhaus and that the Cook Principal and teachers cease making demeaning and disparaging comments about Andy – such as blaming Andy for his own death by not following “instructions”.
In response, the Cook principal and teachers grabbed the student protesters signs and locked the school gate prohibiting the students from entering the school premises. Unable to enter their classrooms, the protest marched to nearby Elsie HS to call on the Elsie students to join them. After marching past the police into the school building, demonstrators marched through the halls calling on their fellow students to walkout.
School administrators put Elsie on lockdown, locking classroom doors so no one could join the marchers.
Cook has sent word to the parents of at least 2 dozen Cook students that they have been suspended from school for the protest. It was not the students, but the administration that locked the gates and refused students entry.
Tomorrow – Wednesday April 23, 2014 at 7:45am, the suspended students, Andy’s Youth, their parents and members of the Justice Coalition will gather in front of Cook to demand that the students be allowed to attend school and return to class.
Report from Jonathan Melrod of the Justice Coalition for Andy Lopez on April 23:
"As of 8am this morning, all of the (threatened) suspended students were allowed into the building. The principal has back peddled on her actions of yesterday denying that she locked the students out, despite eyewitness accounts to the opposite. In any event, when we left Cook this morning she appeared to have reneged on her suspension threat. The media attention and direct action of the community, for the moment, heightened her "sensitivity". Her public statement of Monday to Nicole and me - "This has been a lost year and the kids are getting D's and F's" - is part of the continuing trauma that the kids are suffering as a result of Andy's murder. Yesterday was good therapy for the kids who got a chance to be heard, be recognized and express their anger and feelings of loss for their friend. It was great to see so many of Andy's Youth at the 6 month commemoration."