Less than a month after receiving a $72,500 settlement from Fall River, George Thompson has passed away. He was 53.
Thompson spent the last two years of his life fighting the city after he was arrested by Fall River police officer Thomas Barboza for shooting a video of the officer with his iPhone.
When Thompson received his settlement in January, he said he planned to open a food truck called “Bozo’s,” a name inspired by Barboza.
“I’m reinvesting the money in the community. I want to keep the money here. It came from the taxpayers, I want to give back to the taxpayers,” George said at the time.
While he won’t be able to fulfill his dream of opening a small business, he will continue to serve as an inspiration to those who knew him.
He dealt with many setbacks over the past few years – being arrested and forced to spend a night in jail, being threatened with reprisal by the officer who arrested him; being forced to go to court numerous times to fight baseless charges; having the contents of his phone destroyed by the police; having to go back to court to force the police to return his phone; and his numerous unsuccessful attempts to get the city to acquiesce to a settlement.
But throughout the lengthy battle, he never lost his fighting spirit or his sense of humor.
The first thing he did after he was released from jail was hang up a sign in front of his home that read, “bad cop, no donut #32,” keeping it there for more than a year – ignoring a request from a city councilwoman to remove it – taking it down only because he moved after his landlord decided to sell the place.
The 32 was Barboza’s badge number. And ever since hanging up that sign, he had Barboza’s number, a cop who would go out of his way to avoid Thompson in the months following the arrest.
After all, Thompson was well known in the city. And respected in the city.
We only met him in person a handful of times, but we found it impossible to walk down the street with him without being stopped by friends and other acquaintances from the community.
After news of his death broke this morning, George’s Facebook page was flooded with an outpouring of support from those who knew him. We also posted a question in a private Facebook group that consists of mostly Fall River residents.
We too will miss him, and our hearts go out to everyone who is mourning his shocking passing.
George was a true warrior, the kind of person the world needs more of. The best thing we can do to honor his memory is to live like he did—by standing up for ourselves and never backing down when faced with injustice.
Below is a short clip of Thompson answering questions from the media after charges were dismissed against him on April 11, 2014. Below that video, is the full video from that day.