That sound you heard in at 3:58 at the Fullerton Transportation Center? That was a pin dropping.
I’m not an expert in dealing with loss. I’ve never had a crisis of faith. I’ve never been an addict. I understand what doubt is, but I do not appreciate the intoxicating grip of despair. I’ve never had to walk down a seemingly unending dark tunnel. I’ve never had to hope that somewhere a light is left to guide my way.
I’ve never heard a man threaten to fuck up my son. I’ve never heard my son beg for his life, to ask me to help him, to ask me to save him. I’ve never seen a loved one beaten to death on camera. I have never had my heart break. I have never had my soul shatter. I have never had my world go dark.
The community I want to live in would have a way of making it clear that bullying and small minds will find no shelter. We would make it clear that we govern with our conscience and that we expect those who uphold our laws to not only enforce what is written, but also what is unwritten. We can’t codify what it means to be kind, to show compassion, to abhor contempt, but we do understand how to show it. Where I want to live, respect would be earned and not taken. Where I want to live, the least among us would be confronted with charity and not with the sound of snapping latex and the dull thud of wood landing on bone.
Instead, where I live, it’s a greater crime to discuss FACTS about what wrong a law enforcement officer has done in his past while on duty than it is for a law enforcement officer to beat a man to death in the street. Where I live, we’d rather pay a handsome sum to a stranger to spot-check our community’s integrity than to let a neighbor have her say in how expectations should be enshrined. Where I live, we happily tell a father that his son’s murder was actually a suicide. We casually tell a mother that her son’s cries for help were just the dying delusions of a man who could clearly breathe. Where I live, respect is taken, and the difference between a dog and a man is a subject for debate.
Where I live, a man can kill another man on video for the whole world to see, he can taunt him, threaten him, and use his massive obese grotesque bloated frame to squeeze the very life out of a man and get away with it just because someone put a star on his fat furry yellow belly. Where I live, not only is being homeless a crime; it’s a death sentence:
I live where I have to wonder what kind of courage is required to do the right thing. What it takes to make a choice to not bludgeon a man without a shirt to death. What it takes to actually convict a man of killing another. I get to wonder if the thin blue line protects me as much as it protects itself. I get to wonder why that matters.
I don’t know how to get from where I live to where I want to live. I don’t understand how we can grant special legal privileges to shield those we expect to be our heroes from the consequences of their own bad behavior, and yet not allow the simplest of rights and basic protection to those who get nothing but the scorn and contempt from our society each day. I am not granted the wisdom to substitute my judgment for that of twelve of my peers, nor (apparently) am I granted the sum total of brain cells required to defend their decision.
Maybe tomorrow will be a better day than today. Maybe I’ll be able to be something other than bitter; that I’ll be able to be constructive and I’ll have a voice for change.
Today, I’m just angry.
I can’t guarantee or do anything to ensure that my son won’t grow up to be just like Kelly Thomas, but I can guarangoddamntee that my son will not be anything like the contemptible piece of shit that killed him.
UPDATE: I rarely ask anyone to sign a petition, but please sign this one, asking for a Federal investigation: http://wh.gov/lIsdX
Commentary by other Orange Juice Blog contributors and friends:
- Retired cop Diane Goldstein: A “Peace Officer” Considers the Kelly Thomas Verdict
- Fullerton artist Jesse LaTour: Reflections on the Verdict
- Fullerton activist Matt Leslie: Sign Your Anger on the Dotted Line!
- Attorney Greg Diamond: Verdict – Not Guilty on All Charges