Protesters Gather To Remember Kelly Thomas, Open Up About Personal Stories of Police Brutality

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OCWeekly/ Marisa Gerber
The group of people who gathered in front of the Fullerton Police Department for today's protest differed from last week's crew. 

Sure, the group was smaller this week--somewhere around 200 people showed up.

But, the more marked change was the collective stepping back process, a searching for the bigger picture. 

The crowd was certainly still united in its mission to bring justice to Kelly Thomas, a 37-year-old schizophrenic transient who died at the hands of Fullerton police officers. But now, they're looking beyond Thomas, too.

"Just how prevalent is police brutality? What can we do about it?" 

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OCWeekly/ Marisa Gerber
Renee and Boaz Balenti
Renee and Boaz Balenti, who were both at the protest, said it's all too common -- and they have firsthand experience on the topic. (Read my colleague Nick Schou's story about Balenti's experience with notorious Anaheim cop Scott McManus a couple years back for more detail.)

"This is a problem all over the place in Orange County. It goes on and on and on and it never stops. If everyone stands up, maybe, it won't happen again," said Boaz's wife, Renee.

Charlotte Cianciola, a protester from Buena Park, stood a few feet away from the Balentis, overheard the conversation and chimed in. She, too, felt she'd been the victim of police brutality. 

Cianciola said she got into a car accident a while back, got a concussion and wandered to her friend's house. Her friend called 911, but Cianciola said that when the cops showed up they bombarded her with questions and said they knew her address. "Then they asked me, 'What's your name?,'" Cianciola recalled, "'And I said, 'You tell me, you're the psychic.' Then they took me and slapped me up against the wall. I just remember melting against that wall."

Ron Thomas, Kelly's father, said that, since the story went national, he's had several people come up to him and share such stories. "I'm encouraging them to come out and talk about bad encounters with police," Thomas said. "People need to tell their stories and put an end to all this." 

Still, in many ways, today's protest was similar to last week's. There was still almost no police presence at the protest, for example, although one officer did come outside for a while, talk to protesters and answer questions. 

The officer's presence went over well and several protesters came up to shake his hand. In fact, blogger Tony Bushala, who's following the case closely, even drew up a quick sign saying the officer should be the next police chief. "Oh, stop that," the officer said. "No, I'm serious, you're out here talking to people. You seem to care," Bushala said.

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Robert H, Fullerton
Robert H, Fullerton

Marissa - thanks for covering this but you're a bit off in your assessment.  The crowd there on Saturday was not much different than the crowd the previous week.  Both times, it represents a cross-section of the community of Fullerton, along with activists from left and right. Most people can't stay all day, so you'll see a different contingent dependent on whether you get there at 9 AM or 1 PM.  The wonderful thing is, it is truly a group of people dedicated to stopping police brutality and holding elected officials and city employees, cops especially, responsible for their actions.

Brooke
Brooke

facebook.com/event.php?eid=271...Lets show our support! This is a peaceful protest march. This is for all of our rights! Sat. 8/20/11  at 11am Fullerton PD     

Bosco
Bosco

One way to get it to stop is to make the individual police officers financially responsible for any judgement they cause by police brutality.  Why should the taxpayers have to pay for their actions?  If they lost their job and pension, lost their house and all personal assets, maybe then they would think twice about their actions.  Then, once their family is homeless and living on the streets, hopefully any police officers they encounter will be the law abiding type and not the type that they were.

cook
cook

hey Bosco, another way would be to disband the police forse and let everyone carry a six shooter and settle they disagreements in the street.

Clydieken
Clydieken

a one eyed murdering cop isnt qualified to be a cop . what's up with that

Zerbymark5
Zerbymark5

We the people or should we be called, we the sheeple. Those that guard our flock,Those that we have trusted. Have now turned against us. It is very clear that if youLeave the safety of the pack. Your life is in great danger. It is apparent every day weLive in great fear from those that guard our flock. We can not grow large fangs or largeClaws to protect our selves and we can not run fast enough. But we can unite as aVery very large flock, we can stand peed their ass back to the stone age. We togeatherCan take back that trust, that we gave away. Remember it's we the people now.

Lisann Martinez
Lisann Martinez

There are safety in numbers, I commend Ron for bringing his son's horrible death to light. I am  sorry that it had to happen to him but God knows why he chose him. Maybe because his employment with the sheriffs department, and only he could raise enough awareness of Police excessive force with out being scared of retaliation, because he once carried a badge.I myself was afraid to bring to light when my 17 year old son was brought home to me. The officer said they made a mistake. If they had not brought him home they might have been knocking at my door saying that he died in custody. My son suffer life threatening injuries, because they made a mistake.

HughDiego
HughDiego

Maybe some organization should be found to supervise Police Brutality

cook
cook

" a 37-year-old schizophrenic transient who died at the hands of Fullerton police officers"

not a true statement.  Someone at the hospital pulled the plug.

James Ralston
James Ralston

oh i see,so if they leave it plugged in(even though he was brain dead with a crushed wind pipe ) then everything is okay ! ..........."get real" whomever you are. for you to say something like that you most likely are law enforcement your self ,and sticking up for your fellow brothers of the badge. jsut let me clarify this for you:kelly thomas  would never have to have been put on life support if not for the actions of the fullerton police,therefore they are responsible for everything that followed as a result of their actions.

Jairotiffany
Jairotiffany

U must be a relative to a officer whonwas part of the beating

JoeyCadavidcmt
JoeyCadavidcmt

Actually he was never conscious after the beating and his heart failed four times on the way to the hospital, just because someone is kept alive by machines does not mean they are living.  

cook
cook

So you have information not availble to the general public?  You must be one of the EMT's?    

"just because someone is kept alive by machines does not mean they are living."

And living on the streets with mental illness, on drugs ans hand outs is living?

I don't know any Fullerton cops.  I expect that IF the ones inquestion did wrong, they will pay the price.

Robert H, Fullerton
Robert H, Fullerton

Uh, yes.  LIving on the streets with mental illness is INDEED living.  Living on hand outs is living.  Just ask anybody getting Federal disability, or do you disagree with that as a concept?  Should people who are starving not beg for food because it causes you consternation?  But I digress.  And the "on drugs" part?  Am I supposed to believe that you, your loved ones and all your friends never drink?  Cause ole alkeehall is a drug too, and a more dangerous and addictive one you'd be hard pressed to find.  Anyway, those people "on drugs", of which there isn't much evidence on Kelly except the pharms he needed to keep himself sane, are living as well.

But being beaten into a coma until you're on life support?  No, that would not be living, not so much.

Get the difference?

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