Photos and Video: Rally after Kelly Thomas Verdict at Fullerton Police Department, 1/18/14

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.

Attendance at 10 am

Attendance at 10 a.m.  The red sign reads “Honk for Justice for Kelly Thomas.”

The Sign with the Photo

One of several signs with the photo that captured the world’s attention.

'Trust is Broken Until Justice is Served'

The sign at left reads “‘Trust is Broken Until Justice is Served'”

Encouraging cars to honk

Woman holds sign encouraging cars to honk as protesters across the street do the same

'I Can't Breathe' Sign

Sign at left with some of Kelly’s last words, including “Dude I’m Sorry” and “I Can’t Breathe”

Latino group at the rally

JoEse Gloria of Occupy among a group of Latino activists at the rally

Man in 'cop as pig' costume

Man in costume of “cop as pig.” One attendee who can identify himself in comments tells a story of how his policeman father wasn’t afraid of Vietnam War protesters, but of police under his command who thought that this sort of insult would be grounds for violence

Ron Thomas interview

Ron Thomas being interviewed by LA Times reporter. We talked about how, despite the disappointments of the criminal trial, the civil trial against the city would always be the one that could do the most good. He reminded me that he is not seeking monetary damages in the trial, but simply injunctive relief against wrongful policing practices. (A jury could still award damages on its own initiative, of course — without the prospect of which the city might have much less incentive to settle.)

Vern, Diane, Massimo

“Chairman Vern” Nelson with retired peace officer and writer/activist Diane Goldstein and Occupier/homeless activist Massimo

Wiley and Diane

Diane Goldstein gets a mouthful from Kelly Thomas supporter Pastor Wiley Drake of Buena Park, who proudly defended his “imprecatory prayer” for President Obama’s death in a conversation with Vern, as Guy Fawkes looks on.  (Vern note:  Diane was reluctant to be seen with Wiley because of his infamous GAY-BASHING.)

Partial extent of the rally, 11 am

This shows only the portion of the rally directly in front of the Fullerton Police Station plaza at 11 a.m.

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.

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)