Kelly Thomas lived alone on the streets of Fullerton, Calif., homeless and schizophrenic. He died at the UC Irvine Medical Center on July 10, 2011, having been in a coma for five days. It was the result of a brutal beating, which was caught on video. During the course of the assault, Thomas pled for his life over 100 times. In May of 2012, Thomas’s mother was awarded $1 million in compensation.
Two and a half years later, on Jan. 13, 2014, the men who assaulted Thomas were acquitted in court. Almost instantly #OpFullerton began.
Those men? They are former Fullerton Police Department officers Manuel Ramos, Jay Cicinelli, Joseph Wolfe. They were fired. And now Anonymous is hunting them.
The policemen have been thoroughly doxed by Anonymous activists, down to their wives’ maiden names. Anons have been spreading the information both on Pastebin and as JPGs to get around search engines, which might detect the contents and potentially cause social networks to censor them. Even the jurors were identified, their photos were passed around on Twitter.
Anonymous even began leaving Facebook messages on the profile belonging to the daughter of the police chief.
The website of the Fullerton Police was also taken offline by an attack, presumably DDoS. No permanent damage was done and the offline time was not extensive. At press time, the attacks have resumed and have taken the target sites offline again.
Thomas didn't have an army at his back the night he was killed, but now #KellysArmy has appeared. On Saturday, Jan. 18, hundreds of activists staged a live protest outside the police department in Fullerton. According to the Los Angeles Times, at least 14 people were arrested, primarily for "failing to disperse." Protesters chalked the sidewalk with slogans, interrupted traffic, and waved signs. Some staged a silent protest.
On Twitter, both #KellysArmy and #OpFullerton are in use, although the latter is outpulling the former by a factor of 20. Dedicated Twitter accounts like @Kellysarmy and @HelpKelly are spreading information and gaining followers, as copwatch groups and activists join the movement. The hashtag #KellyThomas peaked on the 13th at over 30,000 tweets, trending nationally and indicating that it's not just Anonymous who is taking an interest in this case. All three hashtags are still in use.
City Council meeting is Tuesday @ 6 PM. Commonwealth Ave, next to the Fullerton PD. Please Bring & Show them your RAMOS GLOVES #KellyThomas— Kelly Thomas Justice (@KellysArmy) January 20, 2014
The "Ramos gloves" refer to the plastic gloves Ramos donned before telling Thomas, "Now see my fists? They're getting ready to fuck you up."
Thomas's father has released a statement about the planned protest at City Hall on Tuesday. He urges calm and says, "Chief Hughes has made it very clear publicly that he WILL NOT reverse his decision as to the termination of Ramos, Cicinelli, and Wolfe. In other words, he will NOT rehire them. I do not see a reason to go into this meeting mad as hell at the City Council as they were not part of the jury. I am asking that concerned citizens attend and voice their opinions, but none of us need violence to get our points across to the council."
In the meantime, the Fullerton Police have closed their public information desk.
It's uncertain how many protesters will manifest on Tuesday night, but given the increasing media attention paid to the case, it is likely to be a larger crowd than Saturday's gathering. Whether they finally achieve what they consider to be justice for Kelly Thomas, or for the tens of thousands like him across America, remains to be seen. But the army has mobilized.
I got filthy pic.twitter.com/C4YlFvFlkG— cassandra (@CassandraRules) January 19, 2014
Photo via Senovan/deviantART
Correction: This article originally reported that Thomas died at UC Davis Medical Center. He died at UC Irvine.