Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert - Fullerton's Downtown Plaza - 7/7/12
Tony Cadena of the Adolescents
The weekend remembrance of Kelly Thomas, the 37-year-old homeless man beaten to death by Fullerton cops one year ago, culminated with the second annual Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert echoing through the city's Downtown Plaza Saturday with eight bands, including OC punk legends The Adolescents, taking the stage.
Other bands and artists who made an appearance Saturday included Julian Porte, New School Kings, No Vanquished, 80 Proof, Mr. Mirainga and Alevela. Many of them performed at the first memorial concert for Thomas held last September.
The event raised money, clothing and food for the Kelly Thomas Memorial Fund (KTMF), an organization helping the homeless set up in the wake of Thomas' death. A silent auction featured memorabilia from the cast of the TV series Sons of Anarchy and bands like Social Distortion, Devo and System of a Down.
"Fullerton is such a music city that it's a good way to get a lot of the public, a lot of our supporters as a way to say thanks to them," says Dana Pape, Kelly's stepmother who worked vigorously to plan and organize the concert.
In comparison to the first concert, which Pape said took three stressful weeks, she said that KTMF had learned a lot from their first experience and now planned more time in getting donors, suppliers and bands to make the second concert go just right.
When she wasn't answering questions and receiving donations at the main booth, she took part with many of the women and other supporters of Kelly's Army for No Vanquished's last song of their set, "We Are Kelly Thomas."
But of course, The Adolescents were the primary crowd pleaser of the night, with droves of loyal fans forming a lively mosh pit at the center of the plaza yet did not venture close to the stage.
Lead singer Tony Cadena took some time in between songs to express his feelings about the Fullerton Police Department and its treatment of the homeless and the mentally ill before the band performed "Lockdown America."
"There was no excuse for what happened to Kelly Thomas. There's none," he told the audience as they shouted "Justice for Kelly Thomas!" "House needed to be cleaned and I hope that these people are held accountable; not for manslaughter, but for murder."
Before leaving the stage after singing "I Got a Right," Cadena made a parting shot at a certain Downtown Fullerton establishment whose owner admitted an employee placed a phone call to the police before Kelly Thomas's beating death.
He told the audience, "Fuck the Slidebar. I've had enough of their bullshit. Fuck them."
Local artist and activist Steve Baxter, who also organized the "Art With An Agenda" exhibit at PAS Gallery the night before, convinced The Adolescents to perform.
"I talked to Dana and the Thomas family and I told them, 'Look. It's great that these guys have a lot of support but we really needed a bunch of people here so let's find an iconic band here in Fullerton,'" Baxter told the Weekly. "The Adolescents are my best friends, I love these guys and they're my favorite band. They stepped up."
He also talked on stage about the "new Fullerton" that has risen since Kelly's death and the subsequent protests and recall of three city councilmen last June before Mr. Mirainga began their performance.
"There's a new Fullerton," Baxter said. "A Fullerton that's free of bullies. A Fullerton that's creative and loving and accepting. A Fullerton that loves art and a Fullerton that loves music."
Though many of the performers have justly used the event criticizing the police culture and the overall political environment of Fullerton, Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, said it was just "fantastic" that so many people turned out peacefully for the concert and helped bring much needed supplies and support for the homeless community.
And apparently, we should be expecting more of these concerts in the future. Thomas added that for any band interested in performing for future Kelly Thomas Memorial Concerts, there's a waiting list.
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