There will be more to say about the killing of Kelly Thomas, about the trial, about the rally. For now, here’s an impressionistic sense of what it was like there today.
I realize on viewing this that I have not tried to use my camera phone for video other than from a stationary vantage point since updating its software — and the effect is as much hallucinatory as impressionistic, but if it starts to make you queasy then just shut your eyes. (If you think of it as a strung together series of still photos — which of course is what video is — maybe it’s not so bad.) The audio is just fine — and in some ways the most important thing you’ll hear is that stream of passing cars continually honking to show their support for the rally.
Shortly after 10:00:
From across the street at 11:00 (not safe for work, as the audio includes the chant “Kelly Thomas / Rest in Peace / Never Forget / Fuck the Police”):
Walking towards and through the crowd at 11:00:
I have my own thoughts as to what signs and actions at the rally are more and are less useful — or at least to my taste. This, to me, is a time when everyone who reacts non-violently is exempt from criticism; we all try to deal with the lack of power to change what happened this week in our own way, and no one — except for Ron Thomas’s continuing with his civil suit — has any clear answer of how to proceed. For me, though, that acceptance of different approaches includes acceptance of those hurt deeply by the lack of justice in this case so far — even if most or all of the verdicts were legally correct, for most of us they fall well short of “Justice for Kelly” — but who did not want to attend such a rally for fear that their presence would be taken as support for reactions that they abhor.
I’ll end with some photos and captions.
UPDATE, 6:00 p.m.: Nick Gerda of the VOC writes that as the day went on, things got more confrontational, leading to arrests.
What started out as a largely peaceful protest with hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the Fullerton Police Department headquarters on Saturday over this week’s verdict in the Kelly Thomas police beating case escalated into a series of tense confrontations in the late afternoon between a smaller crowd of about 40 demonstrators and riot police officers.
According to the Fullerton Police Department Twitter feed, three protesters had been arrested as of 5:41 p.m. A Voice of OC reporter witnessed another two being arrested at the Fullerton Bus Depot around 5:30 p.m.
At one point during the day, a spray-painted anarchist symbol was on the side of the police headquarters.
Police declared an unlawful assembly after allowing protesters to block portions of traffic for at least two hours.
Click that link above for more.
Don’t get too exercised about this. Whatever you think, it doesn’t really reflect on most protesters. Some activists feel that they haven’t been able to “get their fair share of abuse” (as the Stones put it) unless they’ve confronted the cops and been arrested. There’s an easy solution to that: arrest them. Hold them for an appropriate amount of time and then let them go. Then everyone’s (grudgingly) happy. Just don’t arrest people who don’t want or deserve it — that gets bad.
Somewhere in there is a half-submerged notion that if enough people did this it would wreck the system because there wouldn’t be enough police to process them or enough courts to handle them. Maybe in some cases this could happen, but it almost never seems to do so in this country (except, I suppose, in those areas where police fear to tread.) But when you see cops with belts full of twist-ties, you know that it’s not like they haven’t already thought through how they’re going to handle the situation tactically. Change is not going to happen over such protests; as civil disobedience goes, it’s not even that effective. (Contrast it to “chaining oneself to the gates.”) What matters is what’s going on in the hearts and minds of people watching the protests — and I think that so far as fostering that sort of change, this tactic is self-defeating. But, luckily, it’s also pretty trivial. Paint marks can be cleaned up.