About 30 people staged a “flash mob” protest over the fatal shooting of 13-year-old Andy Lopez inside the Santa Rosa Plaza, shouting slogans and walking through throngs of shoppers on Friday afternoon.
It was the ninth public protest over the Oct. 22 slaying of Lopez, killed by a sheriff's deputy who mistook his airsoft BB gun for a a real assault rifle.
Following a rendezvous in Juilliard Park, the protesters entered the mall in small groups and quietly made their way to the second floor food court.
At 1:29 p.m., organizer Terri Carrion blew a whistle and the protesters formed a line in front of the food court and began chanting slogans, including “My name is Andy Lopez and my life matters” and “Justice for Andy.”
Protesters want veteran Deputy Erick Gelhaus, who fired the fatal shots, prosecuted for killing the boy about a block from his home on Moorland Avenue in southwest Santa Rosa.
The next scheduled protest is at a political fund-raiser for District Attorney Jill Ravitch on Tuesday at the Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building.
With three uniformed mall security guards standing by, the protesters, chanting continuously, walked to an escalator, descended to the ground floor and threaded their way through the Black Friday crowd.
Most of the shoppers paid little, if any, heed to the event.
At 1:38 p.m., the protesters — a mix of mostly teens and some adults — went out the mall's front door, beneath a large Christmas wreath.
“Woo, that was fabulous, awesome,” said Karen MacDonald, who said she participated in one previous protest.
Carrion said the protest went “better than I imagined. I thought we were going to be booted out of there pretty quickly.”
(You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 521-5457 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)