Thoudands of Santa Rosa Youth Protest to End Systemic Racism and Police Brutality
(As I am over 60 and in the covid vulnerable group I did not venture out, although I would've — just as I have for the Women's Marches, Climate Change rallies, and Impeach Trump rallies — if it were not for health concerns at my age.)
Over two weeks now, protesters demonstrated in downtown Santa Rosa demanding justice for George Floyd and other victims of police violence including Andy Lopez a local youth whose shooting was not indicted, although the county did settle a law suit with Lopez's family for $3 million ( The settlement did not include an admission of liability by the county).
"In 2013, Lopez was walking with an airsoft gun made to look like an AK-47, with the orange tip indicating it as a replica removed. Two sheriff's deputies spotted him and stopped their car, and one, Erick Gelhaus, got out and told Andy to put down his gun. As Andy moved to turn around and face the deputy, Gelhaus fired at him and struck him seven times, killing him on the spot.
By the SRPD’s admission, Andy hadn’t fully turned around to see who might be calling to him before he was filled with bullets. According to the autopsy, he was struck, among other places, in the right hip and right buttock—from behind.
"The protesters I’ve walked with in Santa Rosa this past week are largely between the ages of 18 and 25. These are the kids who went to school with Andy. They haven’t forgotten." Reports Gabe Melin of KQED
The protests started on May 3O, and are continuing as of June 11. We have learned from these young protesters that endless meetings to plan a protest are not necessary, a simple post on Instagram stories will prompt people to come.
Results and Response to Protests
On June 9, The Santa Rosa Police Department announced they will immediately end the use of the carotid restraint, joining other law enforcement agencies to amend use-of-force policies under protesters demands against police brutality.
According to a Tuesday June 9 news release from Santa Rosa police, Police Chief Rainer Navarro made the decision to ban the the The carotid restraint or “sleeper hold,” after discussion with community members and city officials.
The carotid restraint involves applying pressure to a person’s neck with the intent to render them unconscious by cutting off blood flow in the carotid artery. The move resembles a choke hold — which was previously banned in California — and can be fatal.
Late last year, a Petaluma man died after a Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy administered the carotid restraint hold on David Ward through an open car window. the death is still being investigated by Santa Rosa police.
Gov. Gavin Newsom this past Friday said he would support legislation to ban the carotid hold in California by law enforcement officials.
Several hundred people protesting the death of George Floyd marched through the city to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s office for several hours on Saturday May 31, prompting Highway 101 to be shut-down twice. The protests grew to thousands as the days advanced.
There is at least one reported incident of police using teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of protesters in Santa Rosa. The march separated into several groups by nightfall, when some got rowdy and violent. One group made their way downtown before being hit with teargas and rubber bullets by officers and deputies.
Three people were arrested Saturday night, June 30. Several buildings were tagged with anti-police messages and some had their windows broken.
SRPD began to disperse crowds after violence and vandalism broke out. The vast majority of the night’s protesters left the area after 2am.
Gabe Meline of KQED Reported on Location June 9:
"But like most cities across America, Santa Rosa has looked and sounded a little different these past 10 days. I’ve been out in the streets until after midnight on almost all of those nights, walking and talking with an incredible uprising of people, mostly young, demanding an end to systemic racism and police brutality in the aftermath of the police killings ofGeorge Floyd andBreonna Taylor. I’ve lived in Santa Rosa my entire life and I have never seen anything like it." Gabe Meline
Another planned protest in Santa Rosa on Sunday turned into an all-night affair for the police department. Protesters gathered at Courthouse Square before 9pm and the public was advised to avoid the area. Just after 11pm, SRPD said violence began to break out and were ordered to leave. The protesters moved to College and Mendocino around 1am and the majority were dispersed by 2:15 in the morning. No word on arrests the night’s event.