Artisan by Dan Joyce
As an artist, seeing a therapist and seeking help for a mild disorder, I have always been concerned with the treatment of patients and sufferers of mental health issue. I have also been concerned with poverty and poverty traps often painting portraits of the then small homeless population of the Fullerton community. I knew persons treated and untreated suffered great abuse and discrimination in nearly all communities. This has been difficult to talk about or bring to the public, due to ignorance and the delicacy of such issues.
But in July of 2011 there was a great game changer. I young schizophrenic man from a treatment facility I had been in was brutally beaten to death by the police. It seemed to me at this point, issues of mental health and treatment for such sufferers was a no-brainer! Then I started to speak out on this cause and became involve in the protests and people involved in this case and what I say was a greater insanity in itself, a group of vigilantes caring nothing about the victim, his life or what events may have led to this murder, instead, dead set on going after all the police. There were drug dealers, anarchists, drunk drivers who felt that a delusional emotional attachment to a homeless man most of them didn’t even know. Led sometimes by the father of the victim, Kelly’s Army became a circus showcase morbidly drowning around a serious murder.
As an artist and a writer, I looked at many avenues of what had happened so that maybe such an incident can be avoided in the future. How did the guy become homeless? Why were the police targeting him or was this just an isolated event? I spoke to the police, other homeless and people in the mental health system regarding what happened to Kelly Thomas. While there were countless testimonies of a family that abused their child to the point of throwing an indigent man to the streets to fend for himself, this was obviously something Kelly’s cop fighting fanatics didn’t want to look at. Instead they made a claim that by choice and not abused he wanted to live on the streets, because he was insane. I’m sorry, but I’ve lived in the mental health system long enough to know that an actual schizophrenic man is not that dumb where he wouldn’t know the difference between a roof over his head, a hot meal or sleeping on pavement and eating out of garbage cans. Nor did these testimonies support that decision either. But Kelly’s Army in support of the living victims turned around and encouraged this “Tough Love” policy of only throwing more alcoholics, drug addicts and mental health suffers to the streets on the basis that homelessness would cure them.
The police were cleared of the charges, although we all know they shouldn’t have been. The treatment of the mentally treated in this community only became worse. One leader insulted me, called my art shit and made vulgar intimidations regarding my sobriety and medicine used to treat my disorder. Worse, he turned around and mocked me by telling me to my face that my claims of hypocrisy speaking out against this behavior was just an “insane delusion.” People in weird masks calling themselves “Anonymous” started showing up on social media making explicit offensive remarks to myself and other sufferers. Alcohol, drugs and unhealthy activity were only encouraged more by this “so called” army. Who was their mentally ill hero? A chronic schizophrenic alcoholic local who refused treatment, was addicted to drugs and harassed women and children outside the post office. I am telling you now that mental health is an important issue. Treatment not only comes from the doctor, but the patient, the family and the community as well. Because of such ridiculous stereotypes in the media, that is very hard to accomplish. To continue to make more homeless of these people, not looking at the causes and conditions of what is going on and what can be done, while making a mockery of a serious murder trial made me sick!!
To say what I observed next was a little tricky, they started feeding homeless more, they started giving them clothing and blankets, but made no effort to help any of them off the streets, such as social workers, calling 211, trying to find them a job, etc… What they seem to have intended was to exacerbate numbers of homeless into the community overwhelming our police force and provoking them into another aggravated incident. What happened? Another homeless man was beaten to death by the Anaheim police recently. Now they get to go after the police again while the rest of us sit in the crossfire. Kelly’s Army got exactly what they wanted, another dead martyr. I hope they’re happy!