EVERYDAY PEOPLE POWERING A MOVEMENT IN SUPPORT OF KELLY THOMASBy Janis Populi
The last time I was in Fullerton—in mid-July, when I participated in one of the first demonstrations over Thomas’s death after a beating by six Fullerton police officers—the ambiance was much different. As barely a dozen of us stood in front of the Fullerton Police Station carrying signs that read “Murder,” “Justice for Kelly Thomas” and “Contempt of Cop =Police State,” I felt lonely and more than a little uncomfortable.
But I arrived Saturday to find a real cross-section of locals milling about—young hipsters, the homeless, disabled people in wheelchairs, a rotund USC football fan in full garb, “Oath Keepers,” libertarians, bikers, businessmen, a council/mayor recall group and two local television news vans. There were also a couple of Fullerton police officers—a captain and a sergeant—talking to anyone who approached them.
As a long-haired rocker wailing on his Stratocaster on the stage at the far end of the plaza filled the air with music, charitable donations rapidly filled a U-Haul truck. Vendors in a row of booths were doing a brisk business in funnel cakes, lemonade, raffle tickets and Kelly Thomas memorial T-Shirts.
This was NOT an angry crowd—rather it was a crowd of people united by their desire that justice be done in the murder of Kelly Thomas and that things get better for the homeless.
Later, walking through the bus terminal where Kelly Thomas was beaten on July 5, I paused at a makeshift shrine to take in the heart-shaped balloons, signs and other items arranged around photos of Kelly.
One sign said “HONK!! For the criminal prosecution of the Fullerton police officer’s that Killed Kelly THomas.-R.I.P.” A car filled with donations for the memorial stopped. The driver, your stereotypical solid-citizen kind of guy, wanted directions from the bus station to the meet-up a few blocks away.
As I was walking away, he began to honk his horn. HONK… HONK HONK… HONK HON HONK HONK … and then just one long loud wail.