July 5, 2019 marks the eight-year anniversary of the brutal beating (and ultimate death) of a mentally ill homeless man named Kelly Thomas by the Fullerton Police Department. In this piece, local homeless advocate Leigh White ponders the question, “Why is it important to remember Kelly Thomas?”
People want to forget. It’s too emotional. Too shameful. Too long ago. The brutal beating death of schizophrenic homeless man Kelly Thomas in 2011 was one of the most vicious and deliberate murders to occur in Orange County — all caught on city cameras and Fullerton Police DAR devises. And yet the criminal case verdict was “not guilty.” And yet there’s no permanent Kelly Thomas memorial as promised by the city 8 years later.
Did you know Kelly Thomas was born right here in Fullerton at St. Jude’s? He’s no stranger. He’s our native son. An undeniable part of us. He’s our eternal catalyst and the reason I broke away from my own complacency to become an advocate for the homeless — the absolute best thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.
We must remember July 5, 2011 always. The moment we forget the injustice that has happened to our most vulnerable, is the most moment we as people have ceased to be human beings or Americans. Currently, former officers Cincinelli and Wolfe want their jobs back at FPD. Is this acceptable to any of you?
July 5 is an annual time to put ourselves in check. To see what else can be done to help those in need, and heads up, there are plenty of people still in need in Fullerton. This is also a time to remember a man named Kelly that could’ve been your son, your brother, your uncle, your friend. He could’ve been you screaming for your life as the world watched and did absolutely nothing.
Leigh recently decorated “Kelly’s Corner” at the Fullerton Transportation Center where Kelly was killed. Some friends will gather there this evening for a quiet vigil and time of remembrance.