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Protester arrested, several more cited at Andy Lopez rally

  • David Douglass is arrested by Santa Rosa police officers for resisting arrest while walking in the northbound lanes of Mendocino Avenue during a protest march over the shooting death of Andy Lopez in Santa Rosa, Calif., on November 26, 2013. Lopez, a 13-year-old, was shot and killed by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy on October 22, 2013 , while he was walking with an airsoft pellet gun that resembled an AK-47 assault rifle. (Alvin Jornada / The Press Democrat)

The eighth demonstration protesting the shooting death of 13-year-old Andy Lopez was marked by the first arrest and a dozen traffic citations handed to demonstrators as they made their way through downtown Santa Rosa streets Tuesday.

The protesters were part of a group of about 80 people who rallied at Old Courthouse Square before heading to the Sonoma County administration offices.

As in previous demonstrations, the group called for District Attorney Jill Ravitch to bring charges against Sonoma County Sheriff's Deputy Erick Gelhaus, who shot and killed Lopez on Oct. 22 after the veteran deputy reportedly mistook the boy's airsoft BB gun for an AK-47 assault rifle.

Andy Lopez March 11.26.13

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The rally, the latest to take over Santa Rosa streets over the past five weeks, was organized by local high school and middle school students. While there were more seasoned organizers on hand, the young students took the lead Tuesday.

There were at least two Bay Area residents from the civil rights group By Any Means Necessary, or BAMN. The group, which focuses on immigration, affirmative action and integration issues, has taken up the cause of those calling for charges to be brought against Gelhaus.

After leaving Old Courthouse Square shortly before 3 p.m., the marchers made their way north on Mendocino Avenue. Santa Rosa police officers took positions near Santa Rosa Junior College and ordered the demonstrators to get out of the street and continue on the sidewalk.

Santa Rosa Police Lt. Jerry Soares said the decision to ask protesters to use the sidewalks instead of the street was prompted by calls the Police Department received from citizens complaining about the effect of the marches on traffic along one of the city's main thoroughfares, Soares said.

"We're sympathetic to the demonstrators to be able to voice their concerns," Soares said. "Our concern is for the safety of protesters as well as the motoring public as they try to move through the public streets."

For prior marches, Santa Rosa Police officers have cleared motorists from northbound Mendocino Avenue between Old Courthouse Square and the county administration complex, blocking drivers from entering the roadway until marchers passed.

On Tuesday, protesters were blocking both northbound lanes, and near SRJC officers began using a patrol car's public address system to tell marchers to get onto the sidewalk, Soares said.


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