Strange Bedfellows: The Two Very Different Organizations That Were At Saturday's Kelly Thomas Protest

Unfortunate events breed the most unlikely of unions. I mean, just look to Fullerton. 

When members of two staggeringly dissimilar groups convened Saturday to protest the death of a mentally ill transient, they coexisted with ease. 

For arguably the first and last time ever, members of the far-left leaning, anti-imperialist A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and others from the Oath Keepers, a group with ties to the Tea Party, agreed on something: their disdain for the six Fullerton police officers who allegedly beat Kelly Thomas to death. 

Usually, though, the two groups are polar opposites. Take the topic of immigration, for example. 

Douglas Kauffman, an LA-based organizer with the A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, which stands for Act Now to Stop War and End Racism, says the coalition fights for immigrant rights and supports full amnesty. 

On the other end of the spectrum, however, the Oath Keepers affiliate themselves not only with the Tea Party, but also with the California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR), says George Pulsifer, co-director of the Orange County chapter of the Oath Keepers. 

Remember CCIR? They're that group Gustavo Arellano successfully infiltrated a few years back. On CCIR's website they call for a full-fledged boycott of Mexico, and their phone number is (877) No-Illegals.

Anyway, the point is, when it comes to immigration, these two groups couldn't be any more unlike.

But, details of the Kelly Thomas case piqued the attention of both groups and caused members of the differing organizations to show up in throngs Saturday.

Aside from more than a dozen A.N.S.W.E.R. organizers who attended Saturday's event, Kauffman says he thinks at least 50 other people showed up in front of the Fullerton Police Department on Saturday, because they had received a pre-protest call or email from A.N.S.W.E.R. 
"Our motivation is pretty simple," Kauffman says. "What the Fullerton Six did is a heinous crime. It doesn't take a trained professional to know that six people on one and Tasing someone five times is excessive force." While the group's stated purpose and typical focus is working to end war and racism, Kauffman says the coalition decided to join this protest, because they "fight against any vestige of racism, and police brutality usually affects Black and Latino youth and poor people. It's a race and a class issue." 

The Oath Keepers had a different reason for joining the protest.  Co-director Pulsifer describes the group as "a coalition of active and former military and law enforcement and citizen patriots" that works to remind people that "anyone who holds public office swears an oath to the Constitution."

And when people break that oath, the group isn't happy. "We're all about the oath and the Constitution and the six officers that did what they did lost their bearing and they became oath breakers," Pulsifer says.

Well, it sounds like we have a consensus, and so for now, let's bask in the unity.


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