Police, media demonize Kenneth Harding’s family

by Minister of Information JR

This is the transcript of an interview broadcast on Hard Knock Radio Aug. 15 on KPFA 94.1FM; it starts 43:37 minutes in.

JR: You are listening to the Minister of Information JR on Hard Knock Radio. Today we are talking to Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding, who was murdered July 16 in Hunters Point over a $2 transfer for Muni. Denika, how are you?

DC: I’m hanging in there. Thank you for asking.

JR: Can you tell us a little about your son Kenneth Harding? How old was he and what was he like?

DC: Kenny was 19; he would have been 20 on Aug. 5. The kind of person he was: He’s been in church all his life, he loved his mother, he loved his brother and he loved his baby sister, and to me he was a very giving person – not selfish at all. He had a very open heart and he would do whatever it took to try and help somebody. He was always bringing somebody home that needed help.

JR: Can you talk about July 16? What happened July 16 and how did you hear about it?

DC: Actually, I didn’t hear about it until July 17, when I saw a news report on the Seattle news and they stated that a 19-year-old male had been in a fatal shoot-out with San Francisco police, and somewhere within my heart it felt like it was my son. So I had called my aunt and asked her if she could call out there and find out if it was him or not, and she was asking me why would I think that it was Kenny.

I got a phone call from him on Friday and he told me, “You see the area code; you see where I’m at. Don’t trip; I’m fixing to take care of my music and I’ll be right back.” And I told him, you know, “Kenny, what are you doing?” And he said, “Mom, don’t trip. I promise you I’m coming right back. I just gotta take care of this.”

And that was the last time I talked to him and when my aunt called back, she asked me to confirm any of his tattoos, which he had “love” on one hand and “hate” on the other. And so she called back to the mortuary – or to the ME (medical examiner), I should say – and they verified that it was him and they had also ran his fingerprints through FBI, and he also had his state ID in his pocket, so they knew it was him as well. And after that I got a phone call from the ME.

JR: You know, how do you feel about how they tried to characterize your son and you and your family as a whole in the media when the police shot your son over a $2 Muni transfer?

DC: Well, first of all, I don’t think that they knew he would have a mother who would run to his rescue, and on top of that an intelligent mother, and I think they thought it would go unheard of – wasn’t anybody going to speak up and say anything. But I didn’t come by myself; I came with strong Black powerful leaders.

JR: Can you talk a little bit about how they accused your son Kenny of one thing, being involved in an attempted murder and all, then they accused your other son of something like that and then released him and they were very quiet about it. I wouldn’t even have known that they released him had I not worked at the San Francisco Bay View newspaper.

DC: That’s fine. They didn’t start implicating Kenny in the young lady’s death until he was dead and the Thursday after his death I received a call from a Seattle detective. He wanted to know if I had any questions in regards to Kenny and I told them that they set us up to be targets and put me and my family out there as if he had something to do with this. And I told them, “Excuse me, I know damn well my son didn’t have anything to do with the young lady’s death.”

I wept for her; I grieve for her family. However, we didn’t have anything to do with that. The detective told me that they had Kenny and another boy and two other girls on aerial video, who I know from the corner store down the street, so they know he was in that area that night; and what he stated was, he wanted to know if they had stayed or if they had left before the shooting.

My point to him was, “You guys sit up here and make up targets like this and all you wanted to do was ask my son if they stayed around during the shooting. Common sense would tell you that, if there was a shooting, no – he didn’t stick around. He ran; you know what I mean. So you guys set us up like this and put us out here like this to be targets for anyone to think that he had something to do with it.”

And he wants to tell me it wasn’t the police, it was the media. And I’m like, you guys work hand in hand, you know; one feeds the other. And then as far as my older son (Ondrell), with the other – I’m not even going to say killing; it was a death that occurred. And what had happened is that the man – his name was Anthony, who died – he’s my daughter’s father’s best friend. He called my kids nephews; they called him uncle.

My son had been living over there for months before I even moved back here from California. And I just moved back here from Vallejo in April because I knew Kenny was going to be getting out and he was going to need a place to be released to and he was going to need his mom. So my oldest son, he still remained living over there. He helped them a lot; he took care of them, he paid their rent, he made sure that Anthony and his wife and his son ate everyday. So what it is is a tragedy.

He loved us; we loved him. Now we can’t even see about their family because of what occurred. And what happened was – I can’t get into the specifics – but all I know is they had received the autopsy report back in 24 minutes, so they knew my son had nothing to do with his death, but they still wanted to put us through this.  They raided my home with three different SWAT teams; they put “armed and dangerous” in the computer for my son to give them the right to shoot to kill him.

On top of that, the detective threatened my son’s life, telling me to my face that it’s a shame what happened to my son in California, but it would be a bigger shame if the same thing occurred here. So at that point I was just really through; I couldn’t believe how he was actually sitting here threatening my son’s life. And I know that that’s why they brought the SWAT team out was so that they could kill him.

But outside of that, we hired an attorney, had him take him in. They never filed any charges; they released him with no pending charges. And it’s a shame because we’re going through so much out here for nothing because of what occurred to my youngest son out there in California.

JR: For those of you who are just tuning in, we are talking to Denika Chatman, the mother of Kenneth Harding, who was murdered July 16 in Hunters Point over a $2 bus transfer. I am the Minister of Information JR as we continue this conversation. Ms. Denika, can you tell us what is going on with your son Kenneth’s body right now? Can you talk a little bit about the funds you need, what you need them for and what’s going on?

DC: Basically, we have collected half – I still have a balance owing of $1,680. We have set up a donation account through any Wells Fargo Bank. All you need to do is let them know it is a Washington account and it’s for Kenneth Harding Jr. if you would like to make any donations. However, we’ve been mostly having all payments forwarded to Bonney-Watson Mortuary, just so that there is no question about where the funds are going or what it’s for.

We also have a memorial Facebook page set up as well, and it’s at Facebook under Kenneth Harding Jr. and you can receive all the information there as well. I appreciate all the support and love and care and just giving nature of everyone this has affected, everyone who has just stepped up to be there to support us, all the community from Bayview, all the activists, the NAACP, Rev. Brown, the president in (San Francisco) California.

We have the full support of the Nation of Islam and I would like to thank the Honorable Louis Farrakhan for sending someone out here to Seattle to find us. And we have also been under their protective custody. They have been watching out for us and making sure no harm comes to us as well.

They have also organized a community town hall meeting for Kenny just to set the record straight for all the naysayers and onlookers because me and my son get a lot of backlash now when we leave the house and go into public from other people’s ignorance. And they don’t even think that if he were actually a murderer or had killed somebody, you wouldn’t even be seeing him right now.

And another record I would like to set straight is how they posted and stated that Kenny was a rapist and had messed with a 14-year-old girl and pimping and pandering. What the news doesn’t tell you is that Kenny was 17 at the time all of this took place and that the court had subpoenaed and received the online conversations on MySpace between him and her and found the conversations where she was lying about her age.

And, if Kenny was a rapist, he would have been required to register as a sex offender, OK? And outside of that, if he was pimping and pandering, he would still be locked up – he’d be doing five to 10. He got a reduced sentence because of the proof of the conversations that took place online and because she offered and he accepted.

JR: Right on. You were just listening to the voice of Denika Chatman, the mother of Kenneth Harding, here on the Block Report with the Minister of Information JR. If you would like to get more information about Kenneth Harding, you can go to sfbayview.com.

Email POCC Minister of Information JR, Bay View associate editor, at blockreportradio@gmail.com and visit www.blockreportradio.com.