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Truthdigger of the Week: Ron Thomas

Every week, Truthdig recognizes an individual or group of people who spoke truth to power, blew the whistle or stood up in the face of injustice. You can see past winners here, and make your own nomination for our next awardee here.

In early July, 37-year-old Kelly Thomas died after police beat and repeatedly tasered him, according to witnesses. A homeless man who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Kelly was a familiar figure in the Fullerton, Calif., neighborhood. Ron Thomas, our Truthdigger of the Week, is Kelly’s father. A former Marine and sheriff’s deputy, Ron believes there is no excuse for the extent of police force used on his son, and he has vowed to seek justice.

Since the incident, Ron has been, as Truthdig reader Cindy Johnson said in her nomination of him, “working to keep this story alive locally by organizing protests and by attending many events with an altar that among other things includes a photo of his son’s very badly beaten head.”

Ron began filing the paperwork for a lawsuit against police this week. He told the Los Angeles Times that, if he won, he’d use a portion of the money to support a program to help people with mental illness like his son.

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Honorable Mentions

Princeton professor Cornel West and PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley, both vocal critics of President Obama, went on a “poverty tour” this week that took them to more than a dozen poor communities across the nation, beginning in Chicago on Sunday and ending Friday in Memphis, Tenn. Truthdig reader Edmond wrote: “[Poverty] is something nearly completely ignored by everyone in government and the media. Brother West and Brother Smiley are educating the country at a time when the number of poor is increasing.” The duo’s mission statement? “To highlight the plight of poor people of all races, colors and creeds so they will not be forgotten, ignored or rendered invisible during this difficult and dangerous time of economic deprivation and political cowardice.”

Andrew Gavin Marshall, an independent researcher and writer who covers a broad range of topics in an effort to bring a “critical perspective to world events,” recently published a voluminous report that was republished all over the blogosphere this week titled “The Great Global Debt Depression: It’s All Greek To Me.” Truthdig reader Jason said he was impressed by Marshall’s “enormous insight on the nature of debt as a spider’s web,” with the silk of the web representing debt, the fly caught in the web representing the people, and the spider that eventually eats the fly representing banks and other large financial institutions.

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Ron Thomas on the death of his son, KellyWitnesses to Kelly Thomas’ encounter with Fullerton police talk afterward on the bus.

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