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Stop stealing our jobs, our freedom, our land and our lives

August 7, 2011

Editorial by Willie Ratcliff

Willie Ratcliff speaks at Geronimo Day July 18 at Lil Bobby Hutton Park in honor of the great revolutionary warrior and 27-year political prisoner Geronimo ji Jaga, who died June 2. – Photo: Malaika Kambon
Minutes after the outrageous police killing of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding a stone’s throw from my home and office, I joined the crowd and for two hours listened to the witnesses, shared the anger and echoed the calls for unity. My initial report, “Why should you die for a transfer?” posted on sfbayview.com, your daily online Black newspaper, has been viewed 66,187 times.

People are not just reading my words; they’re watching the video – now restricted on YouTube – of Kenny fighting to live, blood pouring from his wounds as police who are trained and legally obligated to try and save him instead trained their guns on him and kept the crowd from offering aid and comfort. However Kenny was shot – and the latest of several conflicting police theories is that he shot himself – those police officers are responsible for allowing him, as Dr. Ahimsa Sumchai says, “to hemorrhage to death.”

Six days later, Department of Public Works Director Ed Reiskin pledged at the Bayview Library groundbreaking that Bayview Hunters Point residents would rebuild the library. In my construction career, starting in 1947 and increasingly in recent years, I’ve seen Black crews working only when a Black contractor is in charge. But it was Ed Reiskin who rescinded the contract awarded to my company, Liberty Builders, as low bidder on the contract to rebuild the library and who gave it instead to a white contractor whose bid was $310,000 higher.

San Francisco police at Third and Newcomb, a block from where police let Kenneth Harding bleed to death two weeks ago, fire their rifles into a community center on Sept. 28, 1966, the day after they killed Matthew Johnson. According to foundsf.org, “Around six in the evening, a few hours after calling in the National Guard and Highway Patrol, the police responded to alleged gunfire by opening up on the Bayview Community Center and surrounding buildings. After riddling it with hundreds of bullets, the police found no gunmen or weapons but only several pre-teen kids huddling in the corner.” The next day, National Guard tanks were rolling up and down Third Street – San Francisco City Hall’s response to Black power.
Now that the community is unified as it was 45 years ago when, on Sept. 27, 1966, SFPD killed 17-year-old Matthew Johnson, inciting the Hunters Point rebellion that made headlines around the world, I know you will hold Reiskin to his word – or whoever takes his place at DPW now that he’s been transferred to head Muni. Now Reiskin is the man we’ll push to make Muni free for those who can’t afford the fare and to stop the use of armed police for fare enforcement.

The reason I pulled a team of top Black professionals together to bid to rebuild the library was to prevent another lockout on this, the next City-funded construction project in Bayview Hunters Point since the five years of agony City Hall put us through when $700 million in jobs and contracts to build the T-train line were given to anybody but Black contractors and workers. I’d expected to go to court last March to bring the City to the table to reconsider the library contract, but the lawyers want more money and I don’t have it.

Jobs and cops – we need far more of the first and far fewer of the latter in this occupied community that looks more like a police state every day. “We should own and operate and control the economy of our community,” Malcolm X said in his “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech on April 12, 1964, and that must be our goal.

Economic power is the key to freedom. We can stop our corporate-controlled government from stealing our jobs, our freedom, our land and our lives when we make the non-negotiable demand for economic equity.

We deserve the jobs and contracts that are created by our tax dollars – that could be putting food on our tables and keeping our youth out of prison and the graveyard. We deserve the fair, non-predatory business and home loans that would enable us to hire each other and stop the foreclosures that are ravaging our neighborhood like nowhere else in San Francisco. We deserve an equal opportunity to develop our neighborhood – equal to the big developers, from Lennar to Catholic Charities, that are given huge swaths of our land by City Hall for a dollar.

If a few prisoners in the torture chamber called the Pelican Bay SHU who can neither see nor talk to each other can find a way to unite and inspire 6,600 other California prisoners to starve themselves to raise the boot just a little way off their neck, is there anything we can’t do?

We in Bayview Hunters Point are blessed with the sunniest climate, the best views, thus the most valuable land in San Francisco, the city with the most valuable land on earth. I believe this community is worth fighting for; don’t you? I believe our children are worth fighting for; if we don’t, who will?

Let us stand together and put a stop to the stealing of our jobs, our freedom, our land and our lives. Let us demand the right to “own and operate and control the economy of our community,” as Brother Malcolm advised. Now – right now – is the time for us to prove that it’s not the police, it’s not the prison guards or the big developers who have the power to impoverish and enslave us and drive us off our land. The ultimate power belongs to the people, and we will use it.

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

 

17 thoughts on “Stop stealing our jobs, our freedom, our land and our lives

    1. Bryce K.

      The San Francisco Police were completely justified in their decision to fire at Kenneth Harding in defense of their lives as well as the innocent civilians in the Bayview. Kenneth Harding did not die because he was evading a fare- he actually shot himself. Simply put, Kenneth Harding was a cold-blooded killer that terrorized the streets of Seattle and then made his was to San Francisco. He was a murderous pimp who prayed upon young women and ultimately took the life of an innocent 19 year old women and her unborn child. Kudos to SFPD for the heroic work they perform on a daily basis. If you shoot at the police or the citizenry of San Francisco it is a given the police will defend their lives along with others. Also, thank God no one else was injured by Harding's reckless gunfire.

      Reply
          1. Reason

            there is no "right" to construction contracts or jobs, no "right" to a free ride on Muni , and no right to be free of police presence in an area where crime rates are high. Kenneth Harding was at best a convicted pimp, at worst a murderer fleeing the law from Seattle. Good riddance.

        1. Teddy Bop

          Renaldo, it's time for you to get educated. Kenneth Harding was a bad guy! Nothing else needs to be said. The facts are clear as day that Harding shot at the Police and the moron shot himself too. Also, multiple witnesses have come forward corroborating the statements of the involved officers. The good citizens of the Bayview who witnessed Harding's heinous behavior actually spoke to the police rather than saying "I didn't see nothin'" or "Fu** to the Po'lice". It's time for you to get your facts straight and get educated. Would you want Kenneth Harding as your next door neighbor? If your answer is yes I'm worried…

          Reply
  1. Renaldo Ricketts

    The police is no longer able to intimidate people and not be recorded,the weapon of choice is a camera on the streets. We're witnessing a new era in tehnoloogy everybody is armed with a camera as a tool to protect your forst amendments rights.They are afraid of the camera, in many in stances they confiscate cameras and say they are securing evidence, sham no doubt this is what hey do when busted violating a personls civil rights. Arm yourself wiht a camera at all times, record the misdeeds of the beast,it's the only defence against theitr lies in a court of law. Never leave home wiht out it just like your Amex.

    Reply
        1. seamus

          Not wrong, thank you.
          The police knew to search for the weapon because of the video. Had those fellows not pasted their removal of the gun on Youtube, the police would not have known to look up the guy's YouTube account and retrieve the evidence.

          The camera aided the police.

          Reply
      1. seamus

        Please state an argument rather than saying "wrong."
        Or, point to what I have said that you find incorrect so I can know what you're talking about.
        So far, it just appears you haven't got much.

        The County Coroner has stated .380 killed Harding & CSI state the bullet matches the weapon the Youtube guys found.

        Please be reasonable and better informed before attacking.

        Reply
  2. Rocket

    Will someone, anyone at this "news" venue please acknowledge the shooting deaths of Lashawna Candies and a 3 year old boy this weekend in Oakland? Apparently since this wasn't violence under the color of authority it doesn't rate coverage.

    Reply
  3. renaldo ricketts

    Likie most vigilante groups they do have hit squads in the police dept of major cities, a group of criminals who wear badges and simpy murder people.This is not a new phenomena in this country being a cop is a country club alliance,within the group they have death squads.This is the collective unspoken amongst criminals with badges. They have a disdain for non white and take their psychotic behavior into becoming cops,it's almost impossible to detect. These group of criminals exist in all inner cities ,inclusdng this one. No one will ever admit to this, most of the homosides are "justifiable " even with preponderance of evidence – video camera the all white jury aquits. Why is this we've sen this from the Rodney King trial to presnt day Oscar Grant . You would think these cases were slam dunks in a true court of law.

    Reply
  4. renaldo ricketts

    These people are simply ignoring what is righ t and if any of those jurors had a son beaten like a savage by cops they would easily have seen the obsurdity of their aquittal verdict in Rodney King case or the murder of Oscar Grant .
    We're dealing with a racist society ,still , these are the type of jurors attorney's seek to carry out injustices,trust me they know who they are -code words as tohow they answer certian questions, trust me this is the unspoken klan who doesnt dawn white sheets but spews the same vile and anger against non whites. Lets wake up and smell reality!

    Reply

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