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Emotions run high as supervisors discuss Andy Lopez shooting

  • Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin wipes away a tear while talking about the shooting death of Andy Lopez, in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, November 5, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Dozens of community members and activists Tuesday issued a broad call for action as the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors held its first public discussion of the fatal shooting Oct. 22 of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a sheriff's deputy.

Decrying what they said was a shattered relationship with law enforcement, speaker after speaker called for a potent, citizen-driven inquiry into the shooting and deeper engagement by local government in neighborhoods they said long have been overlooked.

The boy's death, in a hail of bullets fired by a veteran county peace officer, was just the latest, tragic symbol of that neglect, they said.

Board Of Supervisors Address Lopez Shooting

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"Many hearts have been broken. Trust has been broken," said Jose Castaneda of Windsor. "It is time that people in positions of power see reality as it is and not as they want it to be."

The 3?-hour meeting featured emotional testimony from county supervisors, student leaders, representatives of the Latino community and others.

Many said the fatal shooting represented a pivotal moment for Sonoma County, exposing chronic disparities in education and economic opportunity, rifts widened by divides in class, ethnicity and political representation.

Supervisor Mike McGuire called the discussion a "hard look in the mirror."

"We cannot be silent about the gaps that exist in our neighborhoods," he said. "Silence has no place in this process."

Many speakers lobbied for strong community oversight of law enforcement, especially in cases of deaths caused by police use of force.

"The citizens of Sonoma County and now the world are watching to see if our local public officials take a stand for accountability, transparency, (and restoring) the public trust," said Curtis Byrd, a Santa Rosa planning commissioner and city council candidate who comes from a family long active in civil rights issues.


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