500,000 Sign Robert Fuller Petitions Demanding Transparent Police Investigation of California Black Man Found Hanged

Two petitions calling for a further investigation into the death of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man found last week hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall in Los Angeles County, have received around 500,000 signatures, as of Monday.

The death of Fuller, who was found last week by a passerby in Poncitlán Square across from the city hall building, was initially described as an "alleged death by suicide" by the Palmdale coroner's office.

Dozens held a rally on Friday in the area where the body was found, with some calling the incident a lynching and criticizing authorities for stating that it was a suicide.

Hundreds also protested Saturday in Palmdale, marching from the park where Fuller's body was found to the sheriff's station, CBS San Francisco Bay Area reports.

The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner's office confirmed Friday that Fuller's cause of death will be deferred pending a full autopsy and probe. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Saturday formally requested the state's Attorney General Xavier Becerra launch a probe into Fuller's death.

Two petitions were launched on Change.org since the incident was reported, one of which, titled "Justice for Robert Fuller," has received over 253,500 signatures to date.

The other petition, titled "Robert Fuller was found dead June 10, 2020, hanging from a tree outside City Hall Palmdale," has received at least 238,600 signatures to date.

One petition claimed: "It is evident that Robert did not commit suicide. He was found hung from a tree right outside city hall. This is a clear case of intimidation by White Supremacists to show their disdain for [the] Black Lives Matter movement, the protests to demand change for racial equality and police brutality reform."

The other petition stated: "We demand the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department Palmdale Station and the City of Palmdale to conduct a full, thorough investigation into Robert's death. We demand security footage in Poncitlán Square to be presented and audio of the call placed when his body was found. We demand justice to be served for Robert and his loved ones."

City officials claimed there were no working security cameras in the area where Fuller died, CBS Los Angeles reported Friday.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is expected to hold a news conference Monday to address Fuller's death, ABC 7 reports.

On Saturday, the City of Palmdale issued a statement "supporting the call for an independent investigation and an independent autopsy of Mr. Fuller."

"The City of Palmdale is joining the family and the community's call for justice, and we do support a full investigation into his death. We will settle for nothing less than a thorough accounting of this matter," the statement said.

Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer issued a statement Friday noting: "We are all grieving the loss of this young man and our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time. We also understand the community's call for a full investigation into this death, and we are asking the same."

California Senator Scott Wilk and California Assembly Member Tom Lackey also announced their support for an independent investigation.

In the neighboring county of San Bernardino, authorities were reported to be investigating the death of another black man, 38-year-old Malcolm Harsch, whose body was found hanging in a tree near the Victorville city library.

"There were no indications at the scene that suggested foul play; however, the cause and manner of death are still pending," a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, Jodi Miller, told Victor Valley News.

In a statement to Victor Valley News, the family of Harsch said: "Our brother Malcolm Harsch died on May 31st. His cause of death has not been released to the family yet but we are concerned that his death will be labeled as a suicide, as this is what was communicated to us upon confirmation of his death on the morning of June 1st."

Newsweek has contacted the office of California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department for comment.

The two deaths come amid ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd, who died last month after being pinned to the ground with a knee to his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest made by the Minneapolis Police Department.

Thousands of protests have taken place across the globe as part of the Black Lives Matter movement in an outcry against police brutality and racism.

Robert Fuller protest in California June 2020
People protest in front of Palmdale Sheriff's Station on June 13, 2020 to demand a full investigation into the death of Robert Fuller. Getty Images