Voice of OC (Orange County) covered community response to Kelly Thomas being beat to death by the police in an article with the heading, Families of Mentally Ill Question Supervisors in Wake of Police Beating Death.
On Tuesday, more than two-dozen relatives of people facing mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, which is what Thomas suffered from. They challenged supervisors to better tap into statewide mental health funds — through Prop 63 – and get services to the mentally ill living on the streets.
I have no problem with this suggestion; Prop 63 is a 1 % tax on citizens of California with incomes of over $1,000,000 for mental health funding. Other states ought to consider enacting similar legislation.
I do however take issue with the suggestion that Kelly Thomas had schizophrenia. I will believe that Thomas suffered from schizophrenia when you can bring me the schizophrenia bug. In my understanding of the matter, no schizophrenia bug has ever been found to date. Whatever “ill” Kelly Thomas had, I would imagine, could be debated for some time to come.
Family members spent the entire day at the meeting, commenting on mental health and waiting till nearly 5 p.m. to call on supervisors to enact Laura’s Law — a 2002 measure that makes it easier for families to get help with forced treatment for their relatives with severe mental illnesses.
I also have a problem with this call for more police state type intervention. Didn’t Kelly Thomas’s death result from some sort of police intervention in the first place? Laura’s Law is an outpatient commitment law. Outpatient commitment usually means forced drugging. Drugging, forced or voluntary, can have damaging consequences.
Thomas’s father, Ron Thomas, has said that his son’s homelessness stemmed from his inability to stay on his medication.
His father, concerning these drugs, says “inability”. Unfortunately Kelly Thomas isn’t around any more to explain whether his was “inability” or disinclination. Ron Thomas, I imagine, lives in a house. He could have offered his home, at least temporarily, as a living space for Kelly. Making housing contingent upon drugging is a way to keep people homeless.
Supervisors are calling for a report to be drawn up in 30 days time explaining why Laura’s Law should be implemented in Orange County.
A man gets beaten to death by the police. This happened because he wasn’t forced to take drugs by law. Alright, that explanation sounds very fishy to me. Perhaps the problem needs another look. Do we have to wait for somebody to get beaten to death who is taking psychiatric drugs for these people to start looking into police culpability?
Anybody interested in learning more about the beating of Kelly Thomas should read the story at Mail Online, Caught on tape: Police beat and taser ‘gentle’ mentally-ill homeless man to death. One word of caution though, it isn’t pretty!