Prosecutors brought criminal charges Monday against a Santa Rosa man who was arrested this month during a protest of the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez.
Ramon Armando Aguirre Cairo, 30, who police said assaulted an officer with a protest sign Dec. 10 as he tried to enter City Council chambers, was charged with a felony and two misdemeanors exposing him to up to seven years in prison.
Charging documents accuse Cairo of using threats or violence to deter and assault Sgt. Brad Conners and of resisting Conners and Officer Stephen Bussell in the performance of their duties.
Cairo, who was free on bond, faces a stiffer punishment because of previous convictions on gang, drug and burglary charges. Judge Rene Chouteau gave him until Thursday to post an increased bail of $45,000 or return to custody.
Cairo declined to comment as he left court but supporters said the charges were an attempt by District Attorney Jill Ravitch to silence critics of the investigation into the Lopez killing. The youth was shot by Dep. Erick Gelhaus on Oct. 22 as he walked along Moorland Avenue carrying a BB gun. Police said Gelhaus mistook the gun for an AK-47 assault rifle.
"They're trying to chill his First Amendment rights," Alicia Roman said outside Cairo's arraignment.
Assistant District Attorney Christine Cook said her office respects the right to demonstrate but based the charges against Cairo on his individual behavior.
The charges allege two prior prison convictions and a past strike offense.
Prosecutors are expected to charge another protester Tuesday.
David Douglass, 24 of Santa Rosa, was arrested in a Nov. 26 demonstration. He will be charged with with misdemeanor resisting an officer for allegedly refusing to get on the sidewalk during a march down Mendocino Avenue.
Court security was heightened at Monday's hearing in anticipation that up to 200 protesters would attend. But only about a dozen supporters showed up.
You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.