A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Fullerton, California to visit Kelly's Corner. The site, which is the location of the brutal murder of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton Police officers two years ago, is a sacred place for homeless and police reform activists. It has turned into a sort of shrine to Kelly Thomas. There, the local homeless population can gather basic resources like food and socks and also grab a good book of poetry for mental enrichment. A sacred place to remember an event society should never forget.
We have BLOGGED about the gentle redheaded and schizophrenic Kelly Thomas before. As a boy Kelly's family cared for and nurtured him. But when Kelly reached adulthood he, like many people with schizophrenia, he chose to live on the streets. There are many who may lay judgement on his family. But Kelly's father tells us that judgment isn't so simple.
The truth is our mental health care system needs radical reforms. Many times that means more than just therapy and medication. Effective mental health programs often need to be especially hands on–like the approach of the Assertive Community Treatment programs.
Later this month, Ron Thomas' lawyers will present their civil case against the Fullerton police and city officials that they see as responsible for Kelly's death. Mental health and homeless advocates across the nation will be closely watching the trial.
But this is not a BLOG about public policy nor even the civil trial. It's a BLOG about a father and his love for his son. About memory and a lasting legacy. About this incredibly powerful poem written by Ron Thomas for Kelly:
To my son
A second trial has just begun
It's been over 4 years since I lost you my son
On that hot July night with such fright in your eyes
Those six murdering thugs beat you, until you were no longer alive
As citizens watched the horror unfold
All of them learning something--that none of us were told
The fact that those who took an oath to protect and serve
Could kill a man so brutally without any reserve
I often look back on all of the years----
We did so many things together,
And soon come my tears
So many times we played our guitars
Both of us knowing we wouldn't go far
And when we laughed so hard it hurt inside
Realizing that neither one of us could sing-----
Not knowing what July 5th, 2011 would bring
I spend every day seeking justice for you
My redheaded son with eyes of blue
I give you this promise, as your dad that is true
I will not rest a day until justice comes through
You cried out my name 31 times---
And within moments you were no longer alive
I will forever miss you, my heart always sad
Those 31 times you cried out--
Crying out for me-
This is the only poem Ron Thomas has ever written.
Mental Health Justice for Kelly Thomas!