The Death of Kelly Thomas: Art With an Agenda

Art With An Agenda: An Exhibit Inspired by Kelly Thomas
by Lilledeshan Bose

There’s an image of Kelly Thomas that haunts everyone who’s seen it. Right after news broke that the homeless, schizophrenic, 37-year-old was beaten by members of the Fullerton Police Department on July 5, 2011, news outlets released a close-up image of Thomas’s face in the hospital. Except it doesn’t look–even remotely–like a face. His visage looked more like a bruised and pulpy blackberry, a swollen mass of black, purple and red.

The unarmed, 135-pound Thomas was reportedly uncooperative when questioned by the police about breaking into cars at a downtown parking lot. For that, he was shocked with Tasers, kicked in the face, beaten with flashlights, his head slammed into the ground. Witnesses say he begged for his life and called for his father while he was being attacked; it took six officers to subdue him. He passed away five days after the beating, when his family took him off life support.

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