Who Is Robert Fuller? Community Calls for Inquiry into California Black Man Found Hanged

An investigation is under way into the circumstances surrounding the death of a 24-year-old black man found hanged near Palmdale City Hall in a case which was initially ruled a suicide but which has sparked concern from the local community that foul play may have been involved.

Robert Fuller of Antelope Valley was found by a passerby in Poncitlan Square, across from the building early Monday morning in what the city's coroner's office had initially described as an "alleged death by suicide."

City Hall initially issued a statement about the death which said: "Sadly, it is not the first such incident since the COVID-19 pandemic began," CNN reported. The cause of his death has since been deferred pending an investigation and a full autopsy.

Fuller's death has sparked much attention at a time of heightened awareness over race expressed in protests following the police killing of George Floyd. Community members in Palmdale want a full probe into whether the death was in fact a homicide.

On Friday, dozens of people held a rally in the area where the body was found, My News LA reported, with some labeling it a lynching and criticizing authorities for ruling it so quickly as a suicide.

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Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer, who was at the scene with Sheriff's Capt. Ron Shaffer, tried to calm the crowd, telling them that investigators were trying to figure out what had been going on with Fuller in the weeks before his death and which people he was with, My News LA reported.

Later at a news conference, community members confronted city officials and gave examples of racism in the city. "We have a history with nooses. We don't like ropes around our necks," said one man present, The Los Angeles Times reported.

City Manager J.J. Murphy responded: "Maybe we should have said it was 'an alleged suicide.' Can I also ask that we stop talking about lynchings?" in a comment which provoked a further outcry from those present.

Kim Kardashian West has lent her celebrity backing to the case, tweeting a link to a Change.org petition calling for a "thorough and transparent investigation" into the death which, as of Saturday, had been signed by more than 108,000 people.

The petition, which says at the bottom "Black Lives Matter!" stated: "This was not a case of suicide but murder" and calls for the release of all video surveillance from city hall and the surrounding area on the day he died. A GoFundMe page for Fuller has raised more than $146,000 as of Saturday.

Newsweek contacted authorities for further comment.

Robert Fuller of Antelope Valley
Robert Fuller, 24, of Antelope Valley, was found dead, hanging from a tree near Palmdale City Hall, in California. The death has sparked anger among the local community who demand a full investigation. From Change.org, GoFundMe
Who Is Robert Fuller? Community Calls for Inquiry into California Black Man Found Hanged | U.S.