A new Halloween horror attraction that opened Thursday at Knott’s Berry Farm has drawn criticism from mental health advocates, who say it includes offensive and dehumanizing depictions of mental health patients.
Knott’s responded Thursday by changing its website to remove references to mental health from the attraction’s name.
But Ron Thomas, whose son, Kelly Thomas, had serious mental disabilities and was beaten and suffocated to death in 2011 by Fullerton police officers, went to see the virtual reality show Thursday night said the web site changes were “cosmetic.”
“You can call a duck a dog, but it’s still a duck,” said Thomas.
In the show itself, he said, “the message is clear. ‘The mentally ill are going to kill you.’ It’s just wrong. Totally wrong.”
Since the attraction was announced a little over two weeks ago, the virtual-reality experience had been promoted as “FearVR: 5150,” as part of the theme park’s “Knott’s Scary Farm” season.
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