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Authorities declared Robert Fuller's death a suicide. His family is demanding "the truth".

This post deals with suicide, and might be triggering for some readers. 

At 3.39am on Wednesday, June 10, the body of Robert Fuller, a 24-year-old black man, was found hanging from a tree in the city of Palmdale, California. 

A passer-by found his body and notified authorities. Fire department personnel were first on the scene, and determined Fuller was deceased.

"Although the investigation is ongoing, it appears Mr. Fuller, tragically, died by suicide," a statement, dated June 12, by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department read.

Palmdale city inferred in a statement that Fuller's "alleged death by suicide" was likely connected to the significant challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Robert Fuller died at the age of 24. His friends and family are demanding answers. Image: GoFundMe.  

“Sadly, it is not the first such incident since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” the city said. "The city remains committed to addressing mental health issues during these difficult times. We are in this together."

However, Fuller's family insists this is not an incident of suicide.  

Not only do they believe the tree on which he was found was too thin and weak to support his weight for any long period of time, they also say he was not suicidal. 

“This is really crazy to all of us,” Fuller’s sister Diamond Alexander said, according to the LA Times. “We want to find out the truth of what really happened. Everything that they’ve been telling us has not been right.

“To be here, staring at this tree, it don’t make no sense,” Alexander continued. “My brother was not suicidal. My brother was a survivor.”

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One of Fuller's close friends, 21-year-old Tammie Anderson, echoed the claims he was not suicidal. 

"For people to say he did this, this wasn’t Robert. For him to tie himself to that tree, it’s not possible," she told LA Times.

Police say they are no city cameras in the area that Fuller was found — which some members of the public have found doubtful, considering the park's proximity to their City Hall. 

Robert Fuller's death comes amid great momentum for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has seen worldwide protests triggered by the death of George Floyd. Robert Fuller had attended a Black Lives Matter protest just days before his death, his family told media. 

There is widespread speculation that Robert Fuller was lynched and that he was murdered because of the colour of his skin. The Anti-Defamation League reported in February that Southern California, where Fuller died this month, has seen a significant increase in white-supremacist activity in recent years.

Fuller's death has sparked local protests, as the community demands answers from authorities. 

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A change.org petition, which has been widely circulation online including by Kim Kardashian-West, reads: "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. 

"We demand a thorough and transparent investigation by Palmdale PD, providing ALL video surveillance from city hall & the surrounding buildings/area, the night Robert Fuller was lynched. This was not a case of suicide but murder; to find the persons responsible for his lynching and justice for Robert Fuller and his family."

Since then, the city of Palmdale said they are "officially supporting the call for an independent investigation and an independent autopsy."

"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," the statement read. "We will settle for nothing less than a thorough accounting of this matter."

According to News Week, three other black men have been found dead in similar circumstances since May 31. However, the death of Malcolm Harsch, a black man who was found hanging from a tree on May 31 in California, has been confirmed by his family as an apparent suicide, according to video evidence. 

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, please contact Lifeline 13 11 14 for support or beyondblue 1300 22 4636.


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