Julian Porte performing at Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert
Saturday's concert in memory of brutalized Fullerton homeless man Kelly Thomas saw a modest crowd of protesters, local residents and music fans gather in the Fullerton Downtown Plaza to listen to an eclectic mix of local bands. Performers included Sederra, 30 Proof as well as latin influenced rock band Mr. Mirainga who have emerged recently after a long hiatus.
Though the event lacked the emotional punch felt at many recent protests in front of Fullerton City Hall, all bands performed with gusto, some throwing lyrical jabs at the police. The most poignant of these came from guitarist Julian Porte, who played an eerie yet rousing cover of the Bob Dylan song, "Man on the Street." Another not-so-subtle snipe came courtesy of Mr. Mirainga who did a cover of Santana's "Evil Ways," and substituted the word "woman" with "police."
Thomas's father Ron, who has been doggedly critical of law enforcement since they brutally smashed his son's face putting him in a coma from which he never awoke, said that though he would have liked to have seen a larger turnout, he was pleased with how the event went.
When asked what he hoped people would take away at the end of the day, Thomas said, "The feeling that Kelly's Army is really united and that we the people can change things without violence."
Ron said that the fact that officers from the Fullerton department were at the event made it likely the message would affect them. However, he didn't hold out the same hope for the district attorney's office. "It has no effect in the DA's office. "They're not out here, they can't feel it, they don't know what our message is."
Bands played on the small concrete stage at the west end of the plaza for a mixed group of people, many wearing bright yellow "Justice for Kelly" and camouflage "Kelly's Army T-Shirts." Several booths were set up to collect items for the homeless such as canned food as well as garner signatures to recall Mayor Dick Jones.
Fullerton resident Steven Baxter who was wearing a shirt which read "Don't beat me, I live in a home," said he would support a mayoral recall.
"He's pretty much run on a platform that says, "if you're down and out, we're going to kick you out,'" said Baxter. "I live in Fullerton. I knew Kelly, he'd sit on a bench outside of Mulberry Street. He liked my dog, he was mellow."
Outrage over the beating, though restrained, was never far from the surface. One group of people in Justice for Kelly shirts strolled in with a bike draped with a large banner featuring Kelly's photo juxtaposed with one-eyed Fullerton cop Jay Cicinelli, who some contend participated in the beating. Under the photo were the words "justice denied."
Though many expressed their dissatisfaction with the police throughout the day, there were those who also made a point of mentioning of the vital services law enforcement provides.
"[We're] supporting the positive part of [the show]," said 80 Proof guitarist and singer Daniel Cooper. "Thousands of cops do a good job. But when something like this happens, it's important to give a voice to people that don't have one. It's about bringing awareness to the homeless situation in this area."