Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Town I Live In: Kelly Thomas

On July 5, 2011, six Fullerton police officers beat an unarmed homeless man named Kelly Thomas into a coma, and a few days later he died.

Because of local bloggers and community protesters, the incident got local, then national, then international news coverage.

Every Saturday, a growing number of protesters gather outside the Fullerton police station.

Meanwhile, the DA and the FBI are investigating. The officers involved are on paid administrative leave. The police chief has (conveniently) gone on medical leave.

City council meetings, normally sleepy bureaucratic affairs, are crowded with hundreds of people from the public speaking their outrage at this issue. Some people are civil and level-headed. Others are bitter and angry. Some call for the police chief to step down. Others go so far as to clamor for the death penalty for the officers involved, who have come to be known as "The Fullerton Six." A petition is circulating, bankrolled by local blogger and landowner Tony Bushala, for the recall of Mayor Dick Jones and two other city council members who are former police chiefs.

As I'm eating breakfast at Rialto Cafe on a Saturday morning, a couple protesters walk by shouting, "Death to the Fullerton six!"

I was involved in the early protests and I was the first person to speak to city council about this issue, but lately I've decided to step back and observe. I don't want to align myself with a mob mentality that calls for swift justice without due process of law. That would make us no better than the officers who killed a man without trial.

This thing has gotten bigger than anyone imagined. I don't know how it will end. For now, I will trust that, in time, truth will out and justice will be served. If not, I will be back out protesting and speaking my mind at City Hall.

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