On a beautiful Southern California Saturday more than 250 outraged local citizens ignored the chance to spend a sunny day at the beach, swim in their pools, shop at the mall or sip Mimosas on their porches.
Instead, for six hours a diverse group of citizens–grandmothers, little kids, lawyers, college students, businessmen and women, housewives, ex-cops, young parents, a mechanic, a dentist, a construction worker, a guy who looked like he'd just left a gay leather bar–hell, you name a group and they were probably represented–stood outside the Fullerton Police Department, waved homemade signs and shouted in protest against a grotesque case of police brutality.
Earlier this month, six Fullerton cops surrounded and savagely attacked an unarmed, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas until he was dead. By the time the cops were done, Thomas' face looked like it had been put through a meat grinder.
Multiple witness say the cops repeatedly beat the 135-pound homeless man
with their weapons, fired multiple Taser shots into his body, kicked
his face and head with their boots and then, long after the man was
subdued and on the ground, slammed their knees into his throat,
apparently crushing it.
(An autopsy report is pending, and we learned yesterday that FBI agents are investigating the killing. Investigators with the Orange County District Attorney's office began their own probe earlier this month. If they determine that the cops violated any California laws, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas could file charges.)
am sickened by what these police officers did,” one protester, a mother
of four kids in Fullerton, told me. “I don't care what excuses they
come up with. They should be arrested and charged with murder. Anything
short of that would be another crime.”
Ron Thomas, the victim's father and a former Orange County Sheriff's deputy, agreed with that sentiment.
Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and Fullerton City Councilman Bruce Whitaker, both Republicans, attended the protest. They both said they want a thorough investigation into police conduct. “We can't ignore what happened,” said Nelson, who contacted U.S. Department of Justice officials last week.
Several members of Tony Bushala's Friends For Fullerton's Future, the blog that broke the Thomas story and has done outstanding work exposing police mismanagement of the crisis, also attended.
One solemn protester carried a sign that displayed six imaginary cop heads on sticks–a reference to KFI's John & Ken “Heads on a stick” radio campaign against two-faced California politicians–and before-and-after pictures of Thomas.
A vigil is planned for tonight beginning at 8 p.m. outside of Fullerton City Hall.
Here are photographs from today's protest that captured the attention of reporters from KFI-AM, KCBS, KNBC and KABC:
The Weekly's previous coverage of Thomas' death:
rscottmoxley at ocweekly dot com
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.