A little after 8 p.m. tonight, scores of people holding candles and representing a cross section of society gathered around the flag pole in front of the Fullerton City Hall.
They chanted "Justice for Kelly!"
That would be Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old homeless man who was beaten to death by six Fullerton police officers earlier this month.
Local TV news reporters milled through the crowd as cars zipped by on Commonwealth Avenue honking loudly in support of the quiet protest against police brutality.
It was a relatively subdued continuation of this morning's protest that attracted hundreds of outraged local citizens. During tonight's vigil, Ron Thomas--the victim's father and a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy--stood inside a massive human circle and announced he would return Tuesday night for Fullerton's City Council meeting.
"I'm inviting all of you to come," he said. "I think we have something to say."
Thoma says city officials have verbally bullied him to keep quiet in the aftermath of the killing.
Among those in the crowd were teenagers holding signs, area homeless as well as Orange County's more affluent residents. Yorba Linda resident Jon Hansen said he was online this afternoon when he learned a vigil was planned. "I saw the terrible picture his father had taken in the hospital. That's murder. And I'm not the protesting type, but I told my wife, we gotta go."
Larry Williams, who is homeless, spoke of Thomas, the red-headed transient he saw around Fullerton. Williams declared, "This isn't about hating all cops. It's about six cops going to jail for murdering a 37-year-old man."
Joan Schawula said she supported the protest, though she doesn't describe herself as anti-cop. "I just think the homeless should be better taken care of. I'm not anti-police, but they should practice a little more tolerance with these people," said Schawula.
As the vigil continued with people chanting around the flag pole, Williams and 40-year-old Jeff Levine stood by the nearby bus bench. Levine said he lived on Fullerton's streets for 20 years and knew Thomas. While he said he never had any encounters with Fullerton cops that rivaled what Thomas experienced, he wondered how things ended the way they did. "The police said he was big guy. [The victim weighed about 135 pounds.] But I'm not buying that. He may have worn baggy clothes but you can he tell he wasn't a big guy."
Levine looked up at the crowd of candle holders and mused, "If it were up to me, I'd have a bonfire under that pole."
"[The cops] would really hate us then," Williams replied.
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