Yesterday the world was treated to the moving words of love and respect that Slidebar Rock ‘N Roll Kitchen proprietor Jeremy Popoff had for Kelly Thomas, the homeless man who was beat to death by members of the Fullerton Police Department last July.
Poor Jeremy! It must indeed have been heartbreaking for him to lose somebody he had known for years. Especially since he now acknowledges that the call that summoned police to the scene was instigated by a call from his establishment.
(Horrible screeching sound as needle is dragged across the LP)
Here are a few choice quotations from a Fullerton Stories article dated July 23rd 2011 about the Kelly Thomas affair featuring some trenchant observations by Mr. Popoff himself:
“I feel guilty having ever had any contempt for this guy, but if you had asked me about him a month ago, I’d have nothing good to say about him,” Popoff said. “I don’t want to say that it was justified, what happened. But man, Kelly scared people. We …. were always having to kick him out of our bathrooms or tell him to leave customers alone. Then he would yell at us.”
“He had long matted hair and a matted beard that stuck to his body,” Popoff said. “I wish there was something I could do or could have done a long time ago. My manager was in tears when she called me that night. She was really shaken up by it. “
Popoff said that the police have been good to the homeless in the area near his bar. “The cops have been really lenient with him and other homeless. He was allowed to get away with a lot more because he was homeless. The cops gave him a lot of breaks.”
“We’ve given him lots of stuff,” Popoff added. “[He was] not allowed to be here anymore because Kelly did not respect our customers.”
Back to Popoff: “The last thing I want is to be anti-PD or anti-Kelly. We live here, I’m a father. We support the PD and the residents and the community. Literally, most of my staff was very scared and intimidated by him. They were reluctant to ask him to move along,” says Popoff. “Two or three days before [the arrest] he was bumming cigarettes and the manager said to him ‘Kelly you can’t’ do that here, you gotta move on.’ And Kelly screamed back at him ‘don’t call me by my first name!’”