Fullerton councilwoman Sharon Quirk-Silva shocked political observers yesterday when she asked for the resignation of the city's police chief, Michael Sellers, in the wake of the Kelly Thomas death-by-cop scandal. And in a letter today to constituents, she offers further reasoning.
"I feel that the leadership required from our chief during this crisis
was lacking," wrote the lifelong Fullertonian. "Citizens of Fullerton need to have confidence in a police chief who can not
only provide expert, professional crisis management, but who is capable of being the face of the city when a police crisis occurs. I believe we were failed on both counts."
But Quirk-Silva also urged residents to use Thomas' tragic death as a wake-up call for politicians and the community alike in how to treat the county's homeless.
"There is something we in city leadership can do immediately as we grieve Kelly Thomas and begin our healing," she wrote. "Revisit our policy on the homeless in our city and county. Homelessness and mental illness are serious and complex issues that all cities grapple with, but what can we do to better understand their challenges in Fullerton? How can we work with local and county agencies and churches to make connections for families who struggle with mental illness? How can we find necessary resources for those without a home? At the very least, we can all try to gain a better understanding of their plight."
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Later in her letter, Quirk-Silva told the story of talking to a homeless woman who said what she wanted was safety, shelter, and socks. "I know that socks and hygiene items will not solve the issue of homelessness or mental illness, and they won't bring Kelly Thomas back," Quirk-Silva admitted. "But our actions might allow us to better understand the Kelly Thomases who are still out there struggling to live day to day with no place to call home."
The Weekly's previous coverage of Thomas' death:
- "Justice for Kelly" Chanted at Vigil for Fullerton Police Brutality Victim
Hundreds Protest Fullerton Police Brutality After Disgraceful Kelly Thomas Killing
Protest Fullerton Police Brutality Today: Victim's Vigil Tonigh
Fullerton Cops Involved in Death of Kelly Thomas Back On Duty
Kelly Thomas' Officer-Involved Death Was Videotaped; Councilman Calls for Release to Public
- Kelly Thomas' Retired-Deputy Father Blasts Fullerton Police for 'Killing My Son'