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‘Why should you die for a transfer?’

July 17, 2011
On July 18, two days after they killed him, police identified the teenager as Kenneth Harding, 19, and demonized him with a heap of allegations that led one reporter to ask police accountability advocate Mesha Irizarry, "Aren't you relieved the police killed such a vicious criminal?"
Sister Halimah Allah writes from Los Angeles on July 18: “As I watch another Black man – shot down in the street like a mad dog by occupation forces paid for by our tax dollars and 456 years of dehumanization – I read accounts of the incident and wonder: What is this young man’s name? Who are his people: family, friends etc.? Does he have a mother? Does she know her son is dead? (Peace be upon him.) I’m the mother of four Black men! I’m grandma to nine grandsons. I’m great-grandma to one. I’ve seen this scene too many times in my 70 years! I wonder: WHO WILL MOURN for this young Black Man? WHO WILL MOURN for all those yet to fall at the hands of our ever-open enemies? Who will mourn for us all?”

by Willie Ratcliff

When police stopped a teenager stepping off the T-train yesterday to show his transfer as proof he’d paid his fare – $2 at most – he ran from them. They shot him as many as 10 times in the back and neck, according to witnesses. For many long minutes, as a crowd watched in horror, the boy, who had fallen to the sidewalk a block away, lay in a quickly growing pool of blood writhing in pain and trying to lift himself up as the cops trained their guns on him and threatened bystanders.

Having killed the boy at 4:44 p.m., according to the San Francisco Chronicle, in broad daylight at the main intersection – Third Street between Palou and Oakdale – in Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco’s last largely Black neighborhood, the police seemed eager to terrorize the community. They waited and waited and waited as the teenager stopped moving but continued breathing before eventually setting him on a gurney and taking him to the hospital, where the Chronicle reports he died at 7:01 p.m.

“Why should you die for a transfer?” asked a witness known as Tiptoe in the crowd of hundreds of residents that soon gathered in the plaza at the Oakdale/Palou light rail stop. “Justice will be brought!” hollered one man repeatedly in a booming voice as the crowd shouted at the long line of police in riot gear standing between them and the dying youngster. “I saw the riot squad fly by me on Palou yesterday – five trucks in all,” wrote Bayview resident Sherry Bryson on Facebook.

As usual following police murders, the San Francisco Police Department came up with an excuse. The Chronicle relayed it: “As the officers tried to detain the man, he took off running and drew a gun, police said,” according to staff writer Joe Garofoli. “When the suspect shot at the officers, they returned fire, fatally wounding him,” he continued, quoting SFPD Sgt. Michael Andraychak.

None of the many witnesses I spoke with yesterday saw the young victim either holding or shooting a gun and firmly believe he was unarmed. ABC7’s Carolyn Tyler balanced the police claim that they shot the youngster in self-defense by interviewing Trivon Dixon, who said: “He was running. How could he be a threat in retreat? And he wasn’t running backwards, turning around shooting. He was in full throttle, running away from the police. I don’t see in any way how he could be a threat to the police.”

On Sunday, KTVU.com reported an announcement by San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr that a gun had been found which he said belonged to the victim. That police have also kicked off the usual campaign to demonize the victim is evident in KTVU noting that “the suspect had an extensive criminal record out of state.” And in another standard response to a police murder, KTVU reported, “Police patrolled the Third Street corridor Sunday with an additional 10 officers due to an increase in gun violence in the past three weeks.”

“How come a Black man can get shot for not having a transfer? How come a Black man has to be so terrorized that he feels that he has to run for not having a transfer?” ponders activist and graduate student Malaika Kambon. “These kinds of killings have not, would not, do not ever happen in white communities anywhere in the world,” she notes in a Facebook discussion.

“This is insane! They are shooting people over transfers?” exclaimed Renaldo Ricketts on Facebook. “Over a transfer – a piece of paper? That is just so wrong!” wrote Sherry Bryson.

This frame from a video shot by a bystander shows the teenager struggling to lift himself out of a pool of his own blood as a San Francisco police officer – one of several – aims his gun at the boy rather than trying to save his life. – Video frame: TheOneNonly457
“Why did they have to chase him for a transfer?” wrote Latashia Burleson, who started the discussion. “There are many people on the bus who didn’t pay. What they gone do, chase everyone down? And they wonder why they don’t get no respect or cooperation in the community. This makes my blood boil. It has to stop!”

On June 29, Bayview- and Mission District-based POWER, heading a coalition of transit and civil right activist groups that recently helped secure 12,000 free passes for low-income youth passengers, staged a demonstration calling for free Muni – free transit passes for all passengers, the San Francisco Examiner reported. The San Francisco Municipal Railway, known as Muni, has followed up major rate increases in recent years with greatly intensified police fare enforcement, imposing heavy fines and even jail time for riders who are unable to prove by showing a paper transfer that they paid their fare.

“Let’s all remember that we are second class citizens to the police. Period,” remarked Robert Pineda.

As night fell, firefighters washed the teenager's blood off the sidewalk and police and reporters talked. Rick Hauptman, who posted this photo on Facebook, noted: "The police seemed almost jolly. I saw many handshakes among them; I couldn't figure that out. Were they solely being respectful to their colleagues and to senior officers, or was it something else?”
“We have a Mafioso-type situation in San Francisco,” wrote Alan Collins, “where the police make endorsements of so-called ‘moderate’ political candidates and those candidates very often win election and you almost never hear anything from them that amounts to criticism, let alone any type of serious investigation, of the police. This has made SF a city with police who are simply unaccountable, can be assured of getting away with virtually anything, and a collection of elected officials who know that if they do anything that counters what the police want, they will be treated the way Rupert Murdoch has operated with his media empire: reward and punishment.”

“As the state has removed any illusion that it exists to serve or protect people, we can see clearly that it exists only to push us into prisons and to shoot us in cold blood. Two single dollars are worth more to them than our lives. The very existence of the police clearly endangers all of us,” concluded an anonymous writer on Indybay.

A comment on YouTube under the video, “SFPD Ruthlessly Shoots and Kills Unarmed 19yr old Man over $2 Bus Fair,” posted above, reflects the common wisdom in the community that this was a public execution with a purpose: “The white man did the same thing during slavery. They would take a Black man and whip him or kill him in front of all the slaves, to make sure the slaves got the picture of who’s in control.”

A press conference and speakout has been called for Monday noon at Third and Oakdale by the Idriss Stelley Foundation, Education Not Incarceration, the San Francisco Bay View newspaper and Poor Magazine. According to Indymedia, a protest will begin at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Dolores Park.

Bay View publisher Willie Ratcliff can be reached at publisher@sfbayview.com or (415) 671-0789.

 

276 thoughts on “‘Why should you die for a transfer?’

  1. The Truth

    WOW. You guys are insane. This "kid" was wanted for the murder of a pregnant women last week in Seattle. He was a 19 year old parolee/felon for a King COunty Sex offense. He was carrying an illegal gun (which already breaks a plethora of laws considering hes a felon/parolee). He ran from police and started firing at them which supporting witness statements and the police officers were completely justified in shooting right back at this "kid" since he had already put the entire street at risk with flying bullets.

    The world didn't lose anybody special, and this was 100% completely justifiable homicide.

    Reply
    1. The Truth

      Lets see how all you morons spin this and make him the "innocent victim" of a shooting. Oscar Grant was an innocent victim, this guy is a wanted murder/parolee/felon/sex offender willing to start a gun fight with police in broad daylight in the middle of the street endangering all you idiots and you want to protest his death?

      Reply
    2. guest

      I personally don't believe there is such thing as a "completely justifiable homicide" but you seem like you support the death penalty so following this law along with other US laws regarding the rights and wrongs of homicide, a justifiable homicide is one that is tried in court and deemed justifiable by multiple appointed persons. This homicide has not been not tried in favor of the police so therefore it shouldn't be looked at as a justifiable homicide. Please try to remember your humanity when you think thoughts like these. A life is a life and should be held sacred and treated with respect. It's easy to judge anything one way, even so when you are given limited information. I prefer not to jump to any one conclusion on this case until I can say without a doubt that I know the whole story, not just the tales told by two opposing sides wanting personal justification. If only this newspaper wasn't so blatantly biased…

      Reply
  2. TaxMoneyWellSpent

    I wish the cops had turned around and shot more of Bayview filth. The subhuman scum that live there need to be driven out of our city now!

    Reply
  3. The Opposition

    You people are as ignorant as the scumbag that got rightfully shot. He killed a pregnant woman, was a pimp, a convicted fellon, and shot at the police… What did you expect would be the result of his pathetic existence? The person who wrote this article is uneducated and a racist themselves. Most of you responding are lost and should consider moving away if you don’t like it. Or, enroll in school, and check back in ater the decade it takes you to finish.

    Sincerely yours,

    A Happy San Franciscan

    Reply
  4. Guest

    There is a cop walking around near the beginning of that video, behind the chained off area – just where the gun was later videotaped as 'proof' that Harding was armed. If the gun had been Harding's, why didn't the officer find it then? And Harding having gunshot residue on his hands is not proof that he shot that gun just moments before, but only that he had shot a gun sometime recently. Harding may have been guilty of many things, but I don't think he deserved to die like that.

    Reply
    1. Ron Austin

      I agree with everything you have said thus far. This is a very irresponsible "newspaper". And I think the guy was a slimeball, etc. etc. However, I do have to wonder why it took three days for the police to find a second gun in his pocket. Think about it. First there is apparently NO gun because he dropped it and someone took it. If they had found a gun on him (and they would have patted him down for weapons on the scene regardless of his condition) why even look for the "other gun"? If I were working for this crap publication, I'd start by getting a police report and trying to find inconsistencies. Who was the person who found the first gun and turned it over to police? Who was the person who found the second gun? WHEN was each gun recovered? Who are these guns registered to? Go talk to those people. Then bring it all back to the police to explain why it took three days for them to get this story out. THEN you will have a story. But it might not be believable, even if true, because you have lost all credibility with these trash articles.

      Reply
      1. anonymous

        They didn't find a second gun in his pocket. They found a bullet matching the one found in his head in his pocket.

        Reply
  5. USEYOURBRAIN

    How come a Black man has to be so terrorized that he feels that he has to run for not having a transfer? HAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHAHA, that had to be a joke right? He is responsible for running from the police regardless of what it was for, people who arent guilty don't run from the police, PERIOD. You fucking morons! It is really pathetic black people still have to use race as an excuse for anything and everything they can. This is the exact reason people like the "victim" never progress out their worthless criminal lifestyle. I love how everyone wants the world to be sorry for a career criminal white or black who brandished a gun at a police officer getting shot. Well us people, you know the ones with a brain know he got just what any CRIMINAL (black, yellow, white, or green) with a gun pointed at police would get and that is SHOT. Have some self respect and quit using your race as an excuse to be a piece of shit. And those of you who aren't a piece of shit stand up and speak your mind against this trash. Let them know you aren't going to tolerate them embarrassing you and your people any longer.

    Reply
  6. Renaldo Ricketts

    The people have circled the wagons arounds the porkchop crypto nazis aka the police. The lies in this case have fallen in to the bay and drowned, the police has been clowned, so they sit and frown in their silly gowns. The Kenneth Harding case was a hunt they were looking for an excuse to execute another Black youth; he ran the so they felt they had the right to shoot . When has running constituded a right to blow holes in a youth. He ran how could they have been threatened by a fleeing teen, this is just plainly obscene on a TV screen. Yes, walking or running while Black is a crime you could do time or die on a dime. As a community we're standing tall we'll see you at city hall in your stall you crypto nazi pork chop pig on a hill most like likely high on some pill shooting innocence as you kill!

    Reply
  7. Renaldo Ricketts

    If this is not an orchestrated death then what is, they dayum well and knew he was bleeding to death sitting in a pool of blood. They gloated and watched him squirm as he gasped for air , the pork chop pigs knew he was dying, the amount of blood on the ground pretty much dictated his demise. So this is how vigilantes orchestrate an ambush. People saw this and recorded it, it's history, they cannot move the clock back on this one-it has been written in blood -yes our blood on concrete spilled again by crypto racist cops. A video doesn't lie it only reflects what is taking place in the moment . Folks we need to wake up and smell reality.

    Reply
  8. Tammy S

    Right, and all she is saying is that there may be facts that the writer was not aware of and because of that the writer should refrain from being biased in any way. I certainly believe that black people are, sadly enough, still not treated equally in our society. It's disgusting and sad. I see it every day in "main-stream" media and obvious failures at giving unbiased facts in hopes of assisting you in forming their opinion. If you are a dedicated journalist, you don't need to lead your reader. The facts will speak for themselves. I believe that we need more articles about this subject, but the writer need to try remove himself emotionally. That's hard to do when you are passionate about whats wrong with world, but it's the right and responsible thing to do. More facts… the best journalists to rush to judgement, they focus on quickly looking for FACTS and checking those facts and speaking to witnesses with FIRST hand knowledge. BUT DEFINITELY KEEP THIS SUBJECT IN THE LIGHT~ THAT'S HOW YOU CHANGE THINGS

    Reply

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