Supporters of the family of Fitz Thomas will take to the streets Saturday morning to kick off a campaign for spur reforms to the county’s 911 call system, advocate other public safety initiatives, and establish permanent memorials to honor the teen who drowned while swimming with friends near Confluence Park in the River Creek neighborhood June 4.
The Justice 4 Fitz March & Rally will begin at 10 a.m. atLansdowne Village Greens Open Field & Center Stageon Winmeade Drive and end at the African American Burial Ground for the Enslaved at Belmont, where Thomas was buried.
The program is being led by Thomas’ mother, Pastor Michelle C. Thomas, a community activist and president of the Loudoun NAACP who is working to identify systematic changes that could prevent such a tragedy in the future.
A delay in the response of emergency crews—in part caused by confusion that resulted in Maryland responders first receiving the 911 calls—is believed to have played a factor in Thomas’ death.
Among the proposals are the installation of cell towers along bodies of water to better route calls, the posting of mile markers along the river to show water depths, requiring parks to be mapped to the 911 systems; updating equipment and training for county dispatchers, and increasing public training on how to make effective 911 calls. The reform package also proposes requirements for CPR training and drug testing for student athletes, programs in grades K-12 to educate parents and students about the social norms of different races, and to provide mentors who match the demographics and interests of students.
Also proposed are a number of community initiatives, including the preservation of the Black history of Confluence Park; the renaming of the park property, the trail at Kephart Bridge Landing Park, or the Riverside High School football field in memory of Fitz Alexander Campbell Thomas; improving community grief counseling; and creating the Fitz Thomas Football League.
More information about the efforts is available at facebook.com/Justice4Fitz.