“Over the course of the past two and a half years the City of Fullerton Police Department has taken significant steps to make it the best department possible. As Fullerton’s new Police Chief, I will make sure those efforts continue so that our police department serves the community with honor, integrity and professionalism.”
“Over the course of the past two and a half years the City of Fullerton has taken the initiative to implement reforms to our police department so it can provide the best possible service to our community. As Fullerton’s new Mayor, I will continue to make certain those efforts continue.”
These two interchangeable responses from the mayor and chief of police don’t really help at all. They can promise all day long that the police are better trained now, but the public has no real way of knowing if another Kelly Thomas will be beaten in the street because we don’t have access to complaints against problem officers. They want us to just trust them, even though they don’t trust us to watch over them directly with a civilian police commission. One set of rules for police, another for the rest of us.
But there can be no trust. The social contract is broken. The public sphere is fractured. It is now a radical act of sanity to demonstrate, just to speak up for life in the face of institutional brutality and the hollow official rhetoric that follows its sanctioning in court.
No one was found guilty of murder, manslaughter, or even excessive force, even though a man is dead, beaten so severely at the hands of police officers that he never regained consciousness. What madness is it that no one has been held to be accountable? Not the madness of the victim, whose schizophrenia left him unable to function in any normal way in our society while he lived, and whose punishment for being a misfit was death.
What of the madness that took his life? There is no punishment for that pack pathology, or even an acknowledgement of it in the inconsequential pronouncements above. The most telling response from the authorities was the helicopter that hovered over the bewildered and angry, but peaceful gathering Monday night at the spot where Kelly Thomas left us. The steady buzz of the rotor blades was more informative than the blather spilled out on the city’s website.
It is madness to continue this way, even if the mayor and chief of police won’t admit it or don’t know it.