One great thing about OC's music community is it's long memory. In some cases, like the killing of Kelly Thomas, its a long bitter memory. It's been four years since the horrific 2011 death of the unarmed homeless man, beaten to death by Fullerton police officers who were later acquitted of murder Last weekend on Easter, Thomas would've turned 41 years old. That fact alone is usually enough to incite local outrage, let along the recent press the case has gotten in recent days because of two live streamers who narrowly escaped convictions for failing to disperse at the post-verdict protest last year.
This weekend will bring about another round of chants and public support with a soundtrack of crushing distortion and rhythmic rage. On Sunday, April 12 for a peaceful anti-police brutality rally in memory of Thomas. Led by local hip-hop rock band Capitol Kill, the protest is set to start at 2 p.m. at Kelly's Corner, a makeshift memorial near the train station in downtown Fullerton where Capitol Kill will help lead the rally. Though they haven't been considered very high-profile as of yet, the band led by OC rapper Nu3tron (aka Matt Leonard),has been chosen by Thomas' father Ron to help revive the outrage both in the public and the music community. The band first caught Ron's attention with a song, aptly titled "Kelly Thomas" detailing the night that officers Ramos, Cicinelli and Wolf took Thomas' life. Mixing the socially conscious vitriol of Rage Against the Machine with punk angst a la Adolescents, Capitol Kill song adds a frenzied, frustrated note to the retelling of Thomas' story.
"The punk rock scene has been so supportive, because they have a whole different way of looking at things. The don't like being picked on. It's not about fighting the establishment. It's more about, 'hey let us all live.' But then when you violate their comfort zone, they come out not in violence but in song. That's what Matt has done and it's really been something else."
Like most people, Nu3tron didn't know what to do with his outrage over the "not guilty" verdict handed down to the cops in the beating–until he wrote a song about it. And since then, he and Ron have formed an alliance to present CK's music as protest anthems for Kelly in addition to the upcoming release of their debut album titled Uncle Sam's Pistol. As a local rapper, Nu3tron's commitment to reminding as many people as possible about Thomas' murder will far outlive the protest. Look for Nu3tron and Ron's protesting partnership as part of a forthcoming cover story.
"It's easy for someone to see something on the news and be like 'that's sad'. But when it's your son or your daughter being affected, you whole perspective changes," Nu3tron says. "I feel like everybody's kinda forgotten…the hip-hop or the punk community is just as susceptible as any other community. I feel like we need to remind people."