"People from all over the world are outraged at what happened, and someone is not going to be able to get to the demonstration from South Africa. But someone can get to there from south San Francisco," said Forrest Schmidt, a Bay Area activist with ANSWER Coalition.
Lopez is the youngest person to die in an officer-involved shooting in Sonoma County. His death one week ago Tuesday has sparked an unprecedented flood of anger and grief that has fueled almost daily marches, vigils and rallies.
Lopez was walking on Moorland Avenue in southwest Santa Rosa last Tuesday afternoon, carrying a BB gun designed to resemble an AK-47, when he was shot by a deputy who mistook the airsoft gun for an assault rifle.
Investigators have said the deputy, Erick Gelhaus, a 24-year veteran, told them that Lopez turned toward the deputy and his partner when they ordered him to drop the gun. As the boy turned, the barrel of his gun rose toward deputies, police said. Gelhaus fired eight shots, striking Lopez seven times, police said.
The march planned for today sprang from a Facebook page called "March for Andy Lopez" but has since taken on momentum of its own. The site was started by Donald Williams, co-president of the Second Chance Club at Santa Rosa Junior College, which tries to help people released from jail and prison get their lives back on track.
Williams, who stressed he is not the sole organizer of the event, said a number of groups are now involved.
"The community is really who gets credit for this spreading," he said.
Robert Edmonds, the student representative on the SRJC Board of Trustees and a local police accountability activist, said Sonoma County organizers recognize the need to maintain the safety of young students and any parents who may participate in Tuesday's march, particularly with outside forces involved.
"It makes people a little bit uneasy because they're not from here," Edmonds said. "We're different than Oakland. It will be harder if those people are planning to actively engage long-term."
Edmonds added that the "primary goal" is to support local youth who are struggling with issues such as the "loss of a friend, encounters with police, feelings of safety and also just trying to help them understand what it means to use their voice in a safe way so no one gets hurt."
He said local groups involved in the march include the North Bay Organizing Project, MEChA de SRJC, the Associated Students of Santa Rosa Junior College, Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline, or PACH, and others.
Groups coming in from out of town include organizers with the Justice 4 Alan Blueford campaign and representatives of the Statewide Coalition Against Police Brutality. Blueford, 18, died in an officer-involved shooting in Oakland last year, while the statewide coalition advocates for some 50 families that have lost family members in fatal encounters with law enforcement.
Christina Arechiga, an organizer with the coalition whose cousin was killed in 2011 by an officer from the Manteca Police Department, is among those planning to attend the march Tuesday.
Arechiga, who attended a march on the Sheriff's Office last Friday, said she's aware of local concerns about outsiders and that she's been in contact with local organizers.
"We're all on the same page," she said. "Our concern is the police. We don't want the police, because we have seen it before, to get aggressive with the protestors."