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Close to Home: An appeal for real change in Sonoma County

The recent Close to Home piece by Supervisor David Rabbitt and Sheriff Steve Freitas (“Reaching out to repair a broken community,” Oct. 28) contained points that the Sonoma County Latino Democratic Club must address.

Clearly, ongoing, broader issues have arisen during this time of overwhelming sorrow caused by the senseless death of Andy Lopez.

In their Close to Home, the supervisor and sheriff stress that Sonoma County has historically placed a strong emphasis on relationships within communities, schools and neighbors and that now these relationships have been strained. They also assert that the responsibility of strengthening that relationship is mutual.

It is critical that officials understand the relationship between communities of color and law enforcement is not “strained” — it is completely broken. From what we have seen and heard on the streets, in the many marches and vigils we attended, there is a very deep and painful grief followed by an anger so profound and affecting it feels insurmountable. Immense distrust and a feeling of betrayal poison our hearts. There needs to be an understanding that rebuilding any kind of relationship will take time and effort. Whether officials are really willing to commit at this point remains to be seen. Their next actions will answer this question.

Both the supervisor and sheriff have complete confidence in the investigation being carried out by Santa Rosa and Petaluma police. Unfortunately, the community does not share this confidence. Considering the history of police use of deadly force against citizens now stands at nearly 50 since 1996, and the fact that police have never been found culpable of wrongdoing, how could the public have any confidence in a system that monitors itself?

The sheriff and the Board of Supervisors have begun to hold a series of meetings with community members and leaders to achieve these goals of unity and confidence. They claim to have reached out to the Latino community and, specifically, to the Sheriff's Latino Advisory Committee.

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