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Memorial Concert, Benefit Held In Honor Of Kelly Thomas

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FULLERTON (CBS) — A memorial concert and benefit was held Saturday in Fullerton a little more than a year to the day a homeless man named Kelly Thomas was beaten to death by police.

Joy Benedict, reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, spoke to Ron Thomas, Kelly’s father.

“The wounds haven’t reopened,” he said, “they were never closed.”

Thomas said time has not eased his pain. But he’s hoping the concert — featuring seven bands including headliners The Adolescents — and benefit can help others living on the street and help him move forward.

“Last year in four hours we got 2500 pounds of food, and 2000 pounds of clothing. Its phenomenal,” said Ron Thomas.

The second annual Kelly Thomas Benefit is expected to be even bigger.

Benedict reports donations came flooding in early and often. They also had a silent auction and a raffle.

Thomas is hoping with the money raised more needs of the homeless, beyond food and clothing, can be met. “We also go into parks and streets and ask the homeless ‘What do you need?’ They say ‘We need bus passes’ — so we purchase bus passes for them also.'”

Kelly Thomas was 37 when he died. He’d been living on and off the streets and dealing with schizophrenia when the beating occurred. He died five days after the altercation.

Today, people who knew Thomas — and many who didn’t — gathered for the benefit and the concert.

Laura Stanslow, Fullerton resident, came to lend her support. “I have a child. I can’t imagine that happening to my son.”

Robert Fitch, another Fullerton resident who never met Thomas, also came to show strength in numbers.

Fitch said, “The police are supposed to protect us, they’re not supposed to hurt us.”

All seven bands performed for free.

Benedict asked Daniel Cooper of 80 Proof what appearing at the concert meant to him and his band. “It’s just something that resonated with us, and we’re honored to be able to stand up for.”

In the year since Kelly Thomas’ death, two officers are facing criminal charges, three city council members were removed in a recall vote, and his father filed a civil suit Thursday.

Ron Thomas filed the lawsuit to make sure his son, and what happened to him, isn’t forgotten. “We didn’t ask for money. We want change.”

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