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600 march to protest Andy Lopez's death

  • Alexiss Garcia, right, and Alexis Miles, stand in Old Courthouse Square on Wednesday in memory of their friend Andy Lopez during a protest march and rally. Lopez, 13, was shot and killed Oct. 22 by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy who reportedly mistook his airsoft BB gun for an assault weapon. (Alvin Jornada / PD)

A throng of at least 600 Roseland residents and social justice advocates marched Wednesday to downtown Santa Rosa to protest the killing of 13-year-old Andy Lopez by a Sonoma County sheriff's deputy.

The fifth peaceful march in eight days was organized by a coalition of Sonoma County human rights groups. Protesters gathered just before sunset in a parking lot of a Roseland shopping center three miles from the Moorland Avenue field where Lopez was shot Oct. 22 while carrying a BB gun designed to resemble an AK-47-style assault rifle.

Many held signs that said “Justice for Andy,” and “Arrest and Prosecute Erick Gelhaus,” referring to the veteran deputy who mistook Lopez's airsoft gun for its lethal counterpart. Gelhaus fired eight rounds at Lopez, hitting the boy seven times, according to preliminary autopsy results.

Protest Over Andy Lopez Killing 10.30.13

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A group of Aztec dancers in colorful regalia led chanting marchers down Sebastopol Avenue and Third Street to Old Courthouse Square. Santa Rosa police escorted the crowd and controlled traffic.

The march was the first organized by local activist groups including 100 Thousand Poets for Change, Peace and Justice Center of Sonoma County and Police Accountability Clinic and Helpline.

“We're talking about ending police brutality,” said Michael Rothenberg, one of the organizers. “This man should go to jail. A boy was murdered.”

Santa Rosa police are investigating the shooting.

Rothenberg said that activists would organize more protests, but he did not know when the next one would take place.

The Lopez family does not yet have plans to bury the boy's body, according to the Windsor Healdsburg Mortuary.

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