Community Voices

Why Remember Kelly Thomas Eight Years Later?

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.

“Kelly’s Corner” at the Fullerton Transportation Center.

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?

Image of Kelly as a young boy.

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.

14 replies »

  1. It’s been almost 11 years now, I haven’t forgotten. Nor has my rage that these sick fvcks got away with cold blooded murder. I don’t understand how with that overwhelming evidence showcasing how they viciously beat him to death, including the moments where they laughed as he lay dying, how the fvck could any jury acquit? I don’t live in California, I’m up north in Oregon, so I have no real say on wether those pukes get their jobs back but I really hope they haven’t since this article was posted, and thst they never do in the future. My heart will always hurt when Kelly Thomas comes to mind, and I will always hate these heartless murderers, and the justice system who utterly failed him. I’m so sorry Kelly, you deserved better 💔

    • Sorry we were not there to help and even if there were a large crowd there the police would not allow them to help. Look at what happened to the black male George Floyd, the fire captain arrived on the scene was told to not interfere nor give them any advice to perform CPR. Fire captain had to leave without assisting. The crowd had to stand and watch even although the beg for help. Some even call the police on the police. Killer cops are killers cops and standbys does not have the power to help.

  2. Kelly Thomas could have been anyone of us. I grieve this man and a society that would let cops off who brutalize such a vulnerable person. Black Lives Matter and they care about Kelly Thomas too – way before everyone in this community formally has in any way shape or form.

  3. Yes, I take a knee and a prayer for this young man often in my heart and words.

    • I’m not forgetting, and there are many others who will remember the corruption and injustice.

  4. For those of us, whom have loved and fought for help for a wayward son, Kelly’s death brought nightmare to reality.

  5. If the homeless liason officer with the Fullerton Police Department were available on scene that night and the officers on scene had proper CIT training Kelly could still be with us today. Kelly represents everyone. What happened to him could have happened to anyone’s father, mother, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, nephew, niece, and the vulnerable including people with autism, dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s etc….. I am thankful for and have huge respect for Ron standing up for his son and proving his innocence with the city and standing up for his son in court. No family should have to go through this. Yes we should remember Kelly 8 years later. He represents all of us still among the living in that city. He represents all of us. What happened to Kelly could have been any of us. I am glad people in the community posted photos of Kelly on the light pole as a reminder he was a person, an individual, someone’s son, brother, uncle, nephew and his life mattered and still does. His family still mourns his death and so do the rest of us. We mourn the brutal death of one of our own out in the public square and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it. Kelly was unarmed and he called out for his father 32 times to help him. Kelly’s life mattered and it still matters. Remembering Kelly 8 years later matters. It does for me.

    • The officers who beat Kelly should never get their jobs back. They’ve disgraced the Fullerton police department and law enforcement everywhere. They weren’t enforcing the law at that time, they were actively murdering Kelly. There definitely should be a memorial object for Kelly in the place where he was beaten. Shame on those Fullerton police and shame on them for showing their faces in public and shame on everyone responsible for finding all of them not guilty. Backwards society this is…

      • So sorry for Kelly Thomas and George Floyd; both cried for their parents before going unconscious. There are evil in every race & profession. Evil cops kill.

    • Thank you for your response. My heart still breaks for the savage murder of this innocent.