As the three-year anniversary of Kelly Thomas' beating death by Fullerton police approaches, emotions are still running high. There's a new Chief in town, but old anger remains. The latest outrage surrounds the Pasadena arrest of inLeague Press livestreamer AJ Redkey last month on a warrant stemming from a failure to disperse charge during a January 18 protest after the Thomas trial verdicts acquitted two ex-cops. In a rare move in local politics, councilman Bruce Whitaker agendized the arrest for frank discussion during Tuesday's meeting of the city council.
After three long hours and a 10 minute recess, the council finally came to the item around 10 p.m. Supporters of Redkey stayed until the end, but a detractor, Fullerton Police Chief Dan Hughes, spoke first. The top cop stated that he'd be limited in what he could talk about but reiterated that detectives operating outside the city is normal practice. "The answer is simple, yes it is," Hughes said.
He mentioned that a detective on Redkey's case actually wanted to arrest him locally after a judge served a bench warrant on March 20, but "he was unable to locate him." Hughes reached back five years in offering statistics on arrests made outside of Fullerton: 631 for felonies and 635 for misdemeanors.
How many for non-violent failure to disperse misdemeanors?
Or how commonplace is it to send two supervisors and four detectives to apprehend a harmless hippie in Pasadena? Redkey's supporters remained unpersuaded by the Police Chief's presentation. "This is bullshit!" yelled one man from the audience.
Tony Brandenburg, better known as the legendary lead singer of Fullerton-bred punk band the Adolescents, mentioned that he called the picket protest in Pasadena where a small group of five people, including Redkey, showed up as did detectives. There were more Fullerton police than activists! "Were they lost?" Brandenburg asked? "Probably not."
Two others sang a spirited 'Ballad of Anaheim James' to an unamused council, "What do you do with a dreadlocked hippie?" they belted. "All he did was film the police!" Chief Hughes seemed unnerved by it all bursting out of order calling ex-council candidate Barry Levinson a "liar." Another time, he refused to look at Fullerton gadfly Stephen Baxter as he made his points from the podium.
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No action was taken on the hour-and-a-half discussion. Hughes mentioned that his department is currently looking into lapel cameras and reached out to Rialto police for more information. The news gained rare applause for the lawman.
How much the fiasco of sending six Fullerton law enforcement agents out to Pasadena to nab a hippie livestreamer cost the city's taxpayers wasn't disclosed and remains an unanswered question. Watch Fullerton howl once that info is made public!
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz