Giving Voice: Peter Coyote Narrates Andy Lopez Documentary

3 Seconds in October: The Shooting of Andy Lopez, Ron Rogers’ stunning documentary about the gunning down of 13-year-old Andy Lopez at the hands of Sonoma County Sheriff’s Deputy Erick Gelhaus, will be screened again on local PBS stations from Oct. 22–27.

Seven years in the making, the film’s revelations about the tragedy are complemented by the eloquent narration of Peter Coyote, another Sonoma County resident. Coyote—actor, author, poet, activist, Buddhist priest and free spirit of the first order—has narrated more than 200 documentaries, including those of Ken Burns, which have made his distinctive voice instantly recognizable around the world.

Coyote, who just turned 80, has practiced socio-political activism for more than 60 years. In 1962, he and 11 fellow students at Grinnell College went to Washington, D.C., and fasted for three days in front of the White House in protest of the resumption of nuclear testing. The protest made national headlines, and President John Kennedy invited the group into the White House to discuss their concerns. It was the beginning of mass student anti-war protest as a significant political force in the United States.

After moving to the Bay Area in 1964, Coyote soon fell in with fellow writers, artists, actors and peace activists to co-found the Diggers, whose work included feeding some 600 people a day for free, running a free store, publishing a newspaper and putting on street theater performances. Coyote says the Diggers were “cultural warriors” devoted to an “authentic way of living by imagining the peaceful world they wanted to live in and then acting it out.” Their pioneering work attracted the attention of the budding Black Panthers, and they worked together to produce the first Panther newspaper.

Coyote says he was happy to contribute his efforts to 3 Seconds in October pro bono because it’s “stuff that I believe in, that people believe in.” He adds that the film is “completely consonant with my life as a cultural warrior for authenticity, my values and the way I’ve tried to live my life.”  

Regarding Petaluma-based filmmaker Ron Rogers, Coyote says, “I’m in awe of Ron Rogers and the sustained effort he made, and the struggles to get this film produced. And he didn’t stop at Andy, he took the momentum to criticize the [Sonoma County] jail beatings of prisoners and that out of control aspect of the police. So I’m filled with respect and really glad I had a chance to participate.”


3 Seconds in October first aired on KRCB this July. It will be re-broadcast this week on KRCB—PBS affiliate Channel 22 – North Bay—at the following times: Friday, Oct. 22 at 10:30pm; Sunday, Oct. 24 at 11pm and Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 10pm.

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