Fullerton police issue dispersal order in Kelly Thomas protest

Fullerton police issue dispersal order in Kelly Thomas protest
Protesters march along Harbor Boulevard in Fullerton after Monday's verdict in the case against two police officers in the beating death of Kelly Thomas. (Cheryl A. Guerrero / Los Angeles Times)

Fullerton police issued a dispersal order Saturday evening after several protesters in a rally demanding justice for Kelly Thomas allegedly turned violent and attacked a reporter.

A reporter who was covering the demonstration for CBS-2 was struck by a female protester, according to the news station. The reporter sought shelter in the news van as several people surrounded the vehicle.


At least three protesters were arrested earlier in the day, including two for vandalism, according to Sgt. Jeff Stuart.  None were Fullerton residents, he said.  After the reporter was attacked and the dispersal order was issued, several more people were arrested for refusing to leave, he said.

"We have bent over backward today to allow them to protest, hoping to keep it peaceful," Stuart said.

About 150 people gathered Saturday morning in front of the Fullerton Police Department to demand justice for Thomas.  Last week, in a jury found former Fullerton police officers Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli not guilty in Thomas' death.

For some, like 22-year Fullerton resident Julie McDonnell, showing up Saturday was a way to say that the verdict wouldn't dampen people's cries for justice.

"We did lose this battle," she said. "But we're not going to stop fighting for change in Fullerton and across the country."

Others, like Curtis Johnston, said they showed up because they've already seen the power of protests in Fullerton.

"In most cities where something like this happens, the officers are back on the job in a few weeks," he said. "Not in this city."

The trial of Ramos and Cicinelli played out for nearly three weeks, but the jury deliberated just two days, handing down its verdict on Monday.

The verdict led to a rallying cry by an organization that calls itself A California Campaign to STOP Police Brutality.

"We do not accept a NOT GUILTY verdict in the murder of Kelly Thomas! We DEMAND the murderers to be imprisoned or FULLERTON will continue to feel the wrath of the people," read the Facebook page that promoted the Fullerton protest.

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