On October 22, 2013, a deputy of the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office shot and killed thirteen-year-old Andy Lopez as he was walking on the sidewalk at Moorland Avenue in Southwest Santa Rosa.
The deputy reportedly mistook the pellet gun that the boy was carrying for an assault rifle. The incident ignited a public outcry from community members who consider the fatal shooting to have been unjustified.
On November 5, the Sonoma State campus community came together to engage in dialogue and reflect on the Andy Lopez shooting. Some participants spoke about the racial and ethnic discrimination and social marginalization that minorities continue to endure throughout the United States.
Participants also questioned whether a heightened perception of danger in the neighborhood where Lopez was killed, among the poorest and most heavily Latino areas in Sonoma County, contributed to the deputy's decision to shoot.
The Santa Rosa police have already initiated an investigation of the incident and the FBI announced that it would also be conducting an independent review of the shooting. Like the Santa Rosa community, members of the Sonoma State community expressed hope that these investigations will answer nagging questions about the incident, especially whether the fatal shooting was avoidable or justified.
As both the local and campus communities wait for the outcome of the investigation, we call for the immediate re-examination of existing policies and practices in law enforcement to prevent similar incidents from recurring.
We call for calm as we publicly express our grief for Andy's death. As a university committed to creating a society that promotes the rights, safety, dignity and value of every individual, let us use this tragedy to demand greater accountability and transparency from those who are supposed to serve and protect us.
President's Diversity Council
Senate Diversity Subcommittee
The HUB: An Integral Center for Diversity, Vitality and Creativity
Office of the Director of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence