"Anaheim"

“Anaheim” James

Rag readers will recall “Anaheim” James, who was arrested last year by the Fullerton Police Department, who sent six officers all the way to Pasadena to apprehend him for failing to disperse from a protest. Below, Fullerton resident and occasional Rag guest author Stephan Baxter describes the scene of a protest following the “not guilty” verdicts in the case of two former Fullerton Police Department officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas. Although none of the officers were ever convicted in the killing, several protesters have been charged and jailed. Make sense to you? (Warning to sensitive readers: Bax drops the F-word a few times…).

 

“My friend Anaheim James, is one of the most peaceful protesters I know, he was in fact wearing a ‘no violence’ sign on his back when a little over a year ago a police car, filled with soft, slow, angry officers, tried to run him down at a protest we held after the verdict in the Kelly Thomas case came in. Thankfully AJ is swift of foot, he leaped over the hood of the cop car, and as these photos show, dispersed the scene like the fucking wind. Despite all evidence showing James out dispersing overpaid, and overfed fullerton officers, he was arrested 3 months later and charged with … Get this… “FAILURE TO DISPERSE A RIOT”. AJ along with Patti Beers, Juan Zuleta and Adam Adler, all friends of mine, and all equally unjustly charged, will go on trial at north court on March 11th and they are all facing six months in jail if found guilty. According to the 170 page police report, 47 uniformed officers, and multiple plain clothes officers were there to keep the peace on the day of the protest. I was there as well, and there was No fucking Riot. If there had been a riot, you know like every ordinary 2am on a Friday night, it would be the incompetence of this department which should be on trial as they outnumbered us 3-1 by the end of the day.

When the district attorney’s office goes to such great lengths, and is finally tenacious about a prosecution, in order to prosecute protesters, who like AJ, were doing nothing more than filming the police, and they do so at a protest which only came about because this same DA’s office was so incompetent and unmotivated that they could not get guilty verdicts in a murder that a nation watched unfold on national TV, there is something seriously sinister with the OC judicial system. I contend in fact that every single charge against every single protester, represents one more blow, one more boot, one more taser shot, and on moe gloved fist to the legacy of Kelly Thomas.
AJ, Patti Beers, Juan Zuleta and Adam Adler, deserve and need your support, their legal costs are mounting and the press is mostly absent on this story. Please get involved!! One victim in this case is more than enough. More info on how to donate will be posted shortly.”

Stephan Baxter, Fullerton, CA

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Disperse like the wind…

 

Greg Seabourn

Greg Seabourn

Fullerton Stories recently posted a two part interview with newly minted Mayor Greg Sebourn, covering such topics as development and attracting and retaining businesses in town. Part II of the interview ends with publisher Davis Barber asking Mayor Sebourn to comment on his relations with the Fullerton Police Department in the aftermath of the negative campaign waged against him by the police union during the last election cycle.

Perhaps seeking a conciliatory tone, Mr. Sebourn states that he has good relations with individual officers, but makes a startling assertion. At 9 minutes, 40 seconds into the video, he claims that “there is a distinct difference between the officers in uniform, the black and whites, and the union representatives that represent them for labor negotiations.” And, ”The opinions and fears that were brought forward by the police association may not be the same concerns or fears that the uniform officers and the other officers in the city might have.”  He continues by saying that “on an individual basis” he thinks he has “an excellent relationship with all the officers,” and that he has “never had an issue in recent years with any of them in particular.”

It is good to know Mr. Sebourn’s interactions with officers of the Fullerton Police Department are so congenial, but the division he attempts to draw between FPD officers and the Fullerton Police Officers Association (FPOA) representing them is a fantasy. Just a quick comparison between the FPOA’s website and a simple examination of the union’s most recent campaign filing reveals that, of course, every single one of FPOA’s Board and President are active officers of the Fullerton Police Department. FPD officers routinely pay hundreds of dollars each in union dues annually. It is the officers who elect the President and Board to represent them. Whether the people sitting across the bargaining table from the Mayor and City Council are the same officers he sees on the streets or hired negotiators to represent them is hardly the point. The union members are the officers in the department, and what they want is more money, better equipment and working conditions, and less scrutiny from the taxpayers who provide it to them.

The FPOA is now the largest single source of campaign spending in Fullerton City Council elections. It is their political influence that keeps us from having true civilian oversight of our own police department. During the 2014 campaign candidates for Fullerton City Council were sent questionnaires from the FPOA to help the union determine who they would support (and oppose) in the race. The questions were not only those a union might be expected to ask of candidates on behalf of its members, like how many officers ought to be hired, and how to structure their retirements, but also about laws defining their legal culpability and special rights, for example:

“Do you support/oppose reducing or eliminating any of the provisions of the Peace Officer’s Bill of Rights (POBR)?”

“How do you feel about civilian police review boards and or (sic) police auditors? Do you feel they should be used and if so how?”

Greg Sebourn was first elected during a Recall in 2012 that unseated three incumbents largely because of their inadequate response to the killing of Kelly Thomas by members of the Fullerton Police Department. His swing vote against asking for a police services bid from the Orange County Sheriff shortly thereafter elicited cheers from an audience packed with FPOA organized supporters, but gained him no support from the union in the long run. Even though the FPOA spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to unseat him two years later, he was handily re-elected to a full four year term over Larry Bennett, who was endorsed by the union. In the same interview he states that the 2014 campaign, which saw the FPOA smear him in multiple mailers and robocalls, was “dirty and ugly,” but he thinks that “we need to move on.” But it is precisely the motivations and tactics of the FPOA that keep the residents of Fullerton and their elected representatives from being able to move on. Greg Sebourn should remember this fact, and take heart in the electorate’s confidence in him over the narrow interests of the police union.

Kelly Thomas Tape

January 13 marks the first anniversary of two officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas being found not guilty by a jury, and the announcement by the office of the District Attorney that charges against a third officer would be dropped. This anniversary will be observed at 6:30 tonight at Kelly’s Corner, 123 E. Santa Fe Avenue, near the spot where the schizophrenic homeless man was beaten so severely by Fullerton police officers that he never regained consciousness.

In the three and a half years since his death, Kelly’s final heartbreaking cries of “Dad! Help me. Help me. Help me, dad!” as officers pummeled him with blows have been echoed by gasps of “I can’t breathe” by a more recent victim of unjustified police violence. Others had no chance to speak before being gunned down. Although nationwide killings by police have been, with some justification, cited as acts of racism against people of color, the killing of Kelly Thomas, who was white, demonstrated that unprovoked and/or excessive acts of violence by police officers against civilians (and sometimes themselves) in the United States is an equal opportunity epidemic.

A year ago a police helicopter hovered overhead as an angry, but peaceful, crowd pondered the state of their society, where a man’s beating death could be captured on videotape, but the perpetrators could go completely unpunished by the law. On that night, it seemed that only those outraged by these circumstances would be subject to the force of the law.

Three and a half years after the killing of Mr. Thomas, the three officers originally charged in his death have been fired, but three more present at the scene are still on the force. There is still no public oversight of the Fullerton Police Department. Instead, the Office of Independent Review was contracted to periodically audit materials selected by the Chief of Police from it’s own internal affairs investigations. We await the public release of the first review…

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