June 24, 2017
link to facebook link to twitter
More Stories
Credo High School’s special day Jazzed it up with love and music Bikes become the equalizer at UCP day camp Skate park project a possibility for parks and rec SMART and safe Nurse’s strike in Petaluma Sutton takes oath of Eagle Scout Shows are icing on the cake First Rohnert Park student to visit sister city in Japan brings back gift Get ready Cotati - water and sewer rates are rising Cotati woman pleads: consider the salamander PG&E contractors to inspect gas meters in Sonoma County Rohnert Park moves to make medication disposal easier Protestors show up, affordable housing gets closer Caps being tossed after graduation at Tech-High Rancho Cotate Graduation 2017 Now that the dust has settled, is the CRPUSD ready for the next project? Cyber tip leads to Cotati man arrested for possession of child pornography Place receives Girl Scout Gold Award. Fun after school Gift of $1,000,000 to the Sonoma County Fair Foundation Safreno, 2017 Veteran of the Year A sea of flags Nominations are now being accepted for the 2017 Employer Best Practice Awards Breakfast! RP summer camp brings pets and kids together Petaluma teachers hold one-day strike The annual Avenue of Flags May 29 at RP Community Center SSU commencement; one for the history books Problem reaching AT&T last weekend? Vehicle pursuit ends with arrest of 14-year-old Ex RP public safety officer pleads no contest to sex offenses Rancho 2017 top 20 Great turnout for RPPSOA pancake breakfast to help Project Grad Gabriella stole the show Town Hall meeting A bit of Uganda A mission to help Sheriff's office releases details on SSU officer involved shooting RP to replace old trees A true celebration of ‘Cinco de Mayo’ Bunkers at Foxtail set for repairs RP man arrested for attempted murder Project Grad help in full swing CRPUSD OKs two contracts Credo gets used to new digs at SMV Richard Crane Elementary School Man busted for DUI after crashing into tree in RP New hands bring subtle changes to Sharing of the Green fundraiser A traditional dance of Japan Suspect arrested after evading a Cotati Peace Officer Shameful time in history RP rejects new self-storage facilities Engineering with Legos at the Ray Miller Community room Emiri Nomura awarded scholarship Council amends UDSP Body of missing woman found RAFD names part-time fire chief Golf Course Drive Crossing concerns may delay SMART train ‘Quiet Zones’ Shopping carts ran amok in Cotati last Saturday KRCB garners huge windfall from FCC auction Missing Penngrove woman's body found in Marin County Survey Says: Rohnert Park Residents Love City, but not Traffic Ricardo Oliva receives ‘Coach of the year’ for the Northern District Nonn expected to sue CRPUSD Credo crew marches to new home Cotati delays vote on Valparaiso Bunfest was hopping with bunny lovers Sonoma State University equestrians jump with joy on their way to Kentucky The Voice enters into 25th year Cotati-reviews midyear budget Two RP Parks getting upgrades Double Decker Lanes hosts the QubicaAMF A new look for SSU gym RP man reported missing Padre Town Center changes hands Local Tech High student chosen for Scholars program Boys and Girl Club employee arrested for child endangerment Sonoma County to take a look at immigration issue Bomb scare closes RCHS Treasurer for Rancho Cotate High Project Grad Arrested for Embezzlement Armed suspect arrested after resistance RP to conduct survey Man arrested after high-speed chase through 3 cities RP makes changes to city code for ADUs RP girl accosted while walking to school Man gets 11 years in prison for RP knife attack Man who led chase into SF caught And they're off. . . A crab feast at Community Center Taking a pie in her grill RP man busted for possession of meth Saddle Up and Ride Cotati OKs water, sewer rate study RP votes to regulate vaping CRPUSD schools now a safe haven for immigrant students Community quickly rallies for Project Grad RP adds seven to public safety Cotati votes to host shopping cart race Man arrested for attempted murder Cotati opposes SB 618 Defibrillators proving to be invaluable assets Artists ready for art show at library Reilani Peleti Rohnert Park City Council to host Town Hall meeting on May 3 Corrections Suspected explosive device at RCHS Seventh-graders in local schools to be taught CPR Graton Tribe makes good on payments Voice issues apology to school board, superintendent RP man arrested on drug possession charges Auto burglar arrested by Cotati Police

During Rohnert Park City Council meeting protestors unexpectedly take center stage

  • Protestors speaking out against police brutality at the May 23rd Rohnert Park City Council meeting.

By: Christina Molcillo
May 26, 2017

The most pressing issue on the agenda for the May 23 Rohnert Park city council meeting concerned Abatement Activities at the former State Farm Office Site, so the fact that every seat was filled and people were standing against the walls was a hint that there was going to be a lot more going on than what was printed on the agenda.

Anywhere from 10 to 15 people were clutching two separate sheets of paper with printed statements in their hands, one was green, reading “BRANCH WROTH ANOTHER NEEDLESS DEATH AT THE HANDS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT” and the other was yellow, reading simply “COMMUNITY OVERSIGHT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT NOW.” There was one woman who stood at the back of the room with a much larger sign with a drawing depicting two policemen and a person crouched over on the ground – one of the officers was shown to be striking the individual with a club, while the other was using an electric Taser.

This drawing was in reference to the death of Branch Wroth, a Cotati construction worker who had died in a Rohnert Park hotel room Friday, May 12, after being tased by police officers who had been called to the hotel room to check on reports of a man “acting strangely.”

During the first parts of the meeting, whenever someone was finished speaking, each individual would silently hold the two papers up, facing the council members. It wasn’t until the Public Comments part of the meeting that the true intensity of the protestor’s feelings became clear.

The first person who addressed the council was Mary Semish, who wanted to speak about the SMART trains and the noise they created. However, she ended her statement on the train by saying, “I noticed that people here are demonstrating against police brutality, and so I want to stand with them as well. I’ve always called the police and they’ve always helped me, but now I’m scared. I see on the T.V. a homeless lady laying on the ground, and they’re beating her half to death because she wouldn’t stop. If they had me down, they’d probably beat me half to death.”

She continued, commenting that she believes police need to be trained on anti- shooting tactics. Her voice had become choked from holding back tears, and she received applause from the audience members. Next up was Susan Lamont, and she set the tone for the rest of the protestors making their public comments. She began by stating that she was good friends of the parents of Branch Wroth, and made a point to state that Wroth wasn’t simply a construction worker, he was a son, and that there could be nothing worse for a parent than losing a child. She said, “The son of my friends was in distress, and instead of being helped, he was killed.” 

One of the most impassioned statements came from Thomas Bonfigly, who placed a banana and a can of iced coffee on the podium. His example was of an instance where police had come to a supermarket after receiving a call about a crime in progress, and proceeding to pull their guns on a group of three Latino men who were in the checkout lane buying snacks after work. He exclaimed, “Now, I don’t know about you, but if I got done committing a crime, I sure as heck wouldn’t make the mistake of wasting my precious time to pay for my damn groceries at the checkout counter. That’s poor police work and you know it.”

The words being repeated the most often were “cruel,” “heartless” and “cold.” The protestors who came up to speak each had a story about how they felt the police had treated them, or someone they knew, badly. The room quickly became overheated with so many upset individuals making their case. But, while the emotions were high, the discourse remained civil. There were no raised voices, no fingers being pointed, and no threats being made. Rohnert Park Police Chief Brian Masterson was in attendance, and though much of the discourse had been acrimonious, when Barbara Mackenzie came up to talk about the update to the library hours, the protestors all got up and left quietly, with one of them stopping to shake Chief Masterson’s hand.