Another march honors Thomas

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 6, 2008

This time the crowd was smaller.

Only about 40 came Saturday, a sunny but chilly early spring afternoon. But their mission was the same as it had been a month ago — to retrace the path of the last journey of Guy Cameron Thomas — a journey that has irrevocably changed the lives of so many.

On the night of March 8, the body of Thomas was found underneath a cruiser in the parking lot of the Ironton City Police Department. Thomas was dead.

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The driver of the car was Patrolman Richard Fouts, on his way to work a night shift.

Speculation abounds. But apparently Thomas was dragged 10 blocks through snowy city streets.

The facts from an investigation will go to the Lawrence County grand jury in May or June, Prosecutor J.B. Collier Jr. says.

The next evening about 250 came together to remember Thomas and walk those 10 blocks.

Saturday they did the same.

Signs read “No One Is Above the Law” — “Do the Right Thing” —“What’s Done in the Dark Will Come to the Light.”

With these placards held high with words that represent what they apparently believe, they walked.

“We are here to see justice done,” Dallas Thomas, uncle to the dead man, said as the marchers started gathering in front of the city building. “Someone wants to sweep it under the rug. They’re as guilty as that patrolman. Might as well be driving that truck. Someone has got to come forward who saw something. We are going to get something done. This is not going to go away.”

There was no discernible demographic to the march. Young. Old. Men. Women. Black. White. Like John Payne who used to play ball at the American Legion Post 590 with Thomas.

“He was 46. I’m 45. He was like a family member,” Payne said. “It’s important to remember a human life. You are here for a reason. Human life is human life. I think it is important to remember life.”

Another uncle, Glenn Brickey, had an answer both simple and chilling for why he was here.

“I’m protesting a senseless murder,” he said.

Before the marchers started up Vernon Street, Thomas’s uncle Horace Miller sang out “Come By Here My Lord.” The crowd hesitantly joined in.

Then they started, walking past the parking lot where his body was discovered.

A preliminary autopsy report indicated Thomas likely died of asphyxiation and that his chest was crushed.

Across the alley to Washington Street, they walked, their silence resonating throughout the streets. Finally, they reached the Ninth Street playground.

Charcoal grills smoked the lot. Children played quick games of hoops as adults ladled up food. Yet this was no typical picnic.

Propped against a chain link fence was a placard with the Navy photo of Thomas, all spit and polish in his dress blues. Smiling.

A young mother walked toward the fence with her small son.

“Who’s that,” he asked his mother.

“That’s a man your father knew,” she said.

Then she knelt down and held her child.