The family of a young Black man found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, Calif., is speaking out and demanding answers. Robert Fuller, 24, was found dead on Wednesday (June 10) morning in what authorities claim was a suicide, a notion which the family rejects.
“Implying that he was suicidal is really disgusting,” Fuller’s cousin told Los Angeles news station Fox 11 on Friday (June 12).
“My cousin is not suicidal,” added another relative. “He don’t have no mental issues or anything like that. He did not kill himself and we are not going to stop until we get answers.”
A passerby discovered Fuller’s body in a local park at around 3:40 a.m., according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “Although the investigation is ongoing, it appears Mr. Fuller committed suicide,” the LASD said in a news bulletin. “A full autopsy will be performed “in the immediate future.”
The city of Palmdale released a statement extending condolences and “thoughts and prayers” to Fuller’s loved ones.
Fuller came from a “loving family” and was extremely close with his sisters, his cousin said. His body was found hanging above racist writing on the ground but it’s unclear what the message said.
BLACK LIVES MATTER
A young man was lynched in yesterday. His body was found hanging from a tree in Palmdale, CA. He was only 23 years old. His family is missing him. They want answers. They want JUSTICE. His name is Robert Fuller.
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) June 12, 2020
Located in the Antelope Valley, Palmdale has a history of racism and discrimination. In 2019, a middle school teacher was placed on leave twice for using racial slurs in class. In 2015, the county reached a $2 million settlement stemming from a civil rights lawsuit that accused Palmdale and nearby city Lancaster of joining forces with the Housing Authority of Los Angeles County and the sheriff’s department to target and discriminate against Black residents who used public housing vouchers.
Earlier that year, the county agreed to implement new policing practices that required a “team of policing experts” to step in and monitor officers amid allegations of racial profiling, harassment, and excessive force. The county also paid $700,000 to victims of discrimination, and a $25,000 federal fine.
Hear from Fuller’s family in the video below.