I was born in California. I was raised by a Southern California peace officer. I grew up in South Gate. That meant I was going to middle school with kids who had been witnesses to the Watts riots. On my thirtieth birthday, they burned down those neighborhoods in the Rodney King riots. I know a lot about the tensions on the street between the police and those they are tasked to protect and to serve.
My entire life has seen the tension between the police and people grow and grow. The Drug War really hotted this up, but that is for another essay. The idea the police Protect and Serve in this nation is no longer a viable position.
It has been so for some time. I personally was almost shot by a police officer forty years ago, so I am very aware of what can happen. I accidentally scared the cop through inaction and it almost cost me. It was crazy scary but not what I am here to write about. I am here to write about the death of George Floyd and the aftermath. George Floyd cries for his mother near the end. I have heard many a woman stand up and talk about this. When women of all colors and all stripes hear someone cry for their mother, they are moved.
It finally feels as if many mothers have decided enough it enough. They will not have the police stealing their children from them any longer. Where are the dads though? I have decided to write about a very similar incident which happened just up the street from where I live. It was very very troubling for me. One because it happened in a parking lot I had taken my family to many times because there are restaurants and other tourist areas here in Fullerton. Two the victim cries for his father so many times near the end that I cry and cry every time I see/hear it.
It is time for the other half to be mobilized. For we fathers to also demand the police no longer beat our children to death before our eyes. You see two Fullerton police officers beat a mentally ill homeless man unconscious during an arrest. Kelly Thomas later died. The officers were acquitted of all charges.
The defense’s argued that the two Fullerton police officers, Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli, had acted in line with their training and their professional right to use force when they beat Kelly Thomas, a homeless man diagnosed as a schizophrenic, during a police altercation on a summer night in 2011. These are the same arguments which were used in the Rodney King trial.
Here is what happened. On July 5, 2011, at 8:23 p.m., the Fullerton Police Department received a call reporting a “homeless” man who was “looking in car windows and pulling on handles of parked cars” at a bus depot, according to the Orange Country District Attorney’s office. Six officers, Mr. Ramos and Mr. Cicinelli included, responded.
At first, all was calm. The officers ordered Thomas to sit on the curb and put his hands on his knees. He eventually complied but also appeared to be confused, at times vocally belligerent, the district attorney’s office said. Then, in circumstances that will likely remain unclear, the altercation turned violent. The defense said that Thomas did not follow police orders to sit still; the prosecution said that Thomas did not understand and could not follow those orders.
What was clear was what followed, since it was recorded from start to finish on a 33-minute surveillance video that would later fuel public outrage and push the case to trial: Ramos put on latex gloves and then put his fists in Thomas’s face, saying, “see these fists?…They’re getting ready to — — you up.” For nine minutes and 40 seconds, the six officers pummeled Thomas to the ground, with Ramos delivering volleys of punches and beating Thomas with his baton and Cicinelli tasing the homeless man twice in the face. In parts of the footage that particularly incited public anger, Thomas repeatedly cries out for his father to help him, as well as screams again and again “I’m sorry” and “please, I can’t breathe.”
The altercation left Thomas unconscious, and he did not regain consciousness after being transferred to a local hospital. He died five days later. The defense did not dispute that the officers had beaten Thomas. To the prosecution, and to protesters that rallied to Thomas’s cause during the trial, the video showed two police officers abusing their right to force against an unarmed man who “posed a low-level threat,” according to the district attorney’s office.
The defense said that cops must protect themselves when they believe they are in danger, without fear of prosecution for handling the incident with force. The police are armed to the teeth. They are outfitted with body armor. This society does everything in its power to protect the police and to make sure they have everything they need to do their jobs. To make sure the police are not fearful seems to be a Sisyphean task.
As a father, I had a talk with my sons after this happened. They were just about to become teenagers. I knew there would be some police interactions. They needed to be given truthful real world advice. It is the duty of ALL DADS to give their children the tools to deal with the ruthless world. The unvarnished truth is best… IMO
“The police can beat people to death in this society. You are lucky to be white, but it is not an invincibility cloak. If you piss off a policeman he may beat you to death or he may shoot you or worse. Admit nothing and be overly polite.”
“Dad, cops are our friends.” my sons responded
“No, cops are necessary evils. If you are stopped this is what you say-
‘May I call my father sir.’
‘I really need to call my father sir
‘I do not know sir’
‘I am unsure sir. ‘
‘May I call my father sir?’
Admit nothing and get them to call me! ‘’May I call my father sir?’’
And I was serious as a heart attack AND I am white AND my sons are too, but I gave them the aforementioned advise. I can only imagine the level of fear for parents of color feel. The police are out of control and it has a lot to do with the Drug War.
If you have the stomach for it watch SIX POLICE OFFICERS beat a homeless man to death AND NOT A SINGLE ONE GOES TO JAIL!!!!!!!!!!