Remembering Kenneth Harding: No stop ‘n Frisco!


    Shut down Muni Monday, July 16, beginning at 6 a.m., 14th and Market, San Francisco

    by Willie Ratcliff

    Desperate cries rising from a crowd of hundreds pierced the peaceful sunny summer Saturday afternoon nearly a year ago, July 16, 2011, on Third and Oakdale in the center of Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco’s Black heartland. Police had pulled 19-year-old Kenneth Harding off the T-train because he looked suspicious – young and Black – and couldn’t show them a Muni transfer to prove he’d paid his $2 fare.

    He ran, they shot him in the back and for an agonizing half hour, instead of trying to save his life, they trained their guns on Kenneth and the crowd while the young man “lay in a quickly growing pool of blood writhing in pain and trying to lift himself up,” as I wrote the next day, and the crowd screamed in horror.

    The video has been seen 373,000 times. Reflecting the common wisdom in the community that this was a public execution with a purpose, one commenter said: “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.”

    Kenny’s mother, Denika Chatman, who has become a major voice for justice, plans a weekend of events July 13-16 described below to commemorate his life and prevent a repeat of his terrible death.

    Mayor favors stop and frisk

    Knowing that the police murder of Kenneth Harding was the outcome of the routine, though unofficial, police practice of stopping and frisking young men of color, why would San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a former civil rights attorney, consider importing New York City’s disastrous stop-and-frisk policy? He announced June 27 that he’s considering adoption of the policy to control gun violence and would implement it only in so-called high-crime neighborhoods, where Black and Brown youngsters are already racially profiled.

    On July 10, in response to Mayor Lee’s fondness for stop and frisk, the Equal Justice Society and over 50 other civil rights groups called on the mayor to retract that announcement. And that afternoon, a majority of the Board of Supervisors endorsed the proposal of Supervisor Malia Cohen, who represents Bayview Hunters Point, to urge Mayor Lee “to stop pursuing any notion of implementing a local version of New York City’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy,” according to the Chronicle.

    “I can’t think of a worse step to take than implementing a version of the stop-and-frisk policy used in New York City,” Cohen said. Co-sponsoring Cohen’s resolution were Supervisors John Avalos, David Campos, David Chiu, Eric Mar and Christina Olague.

    Mayor Lee is undeterred. “He certainly won’t support a program that includes racial profiling or violating anyone’s constitutional rights,” however, mayoral spokeswoman Christine Falvey told the Chronicle.

    But stop and frisk is an invitation to racial profiling. San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi writes in a Chronicle op-ed: “Make no mistake: Racial profiling does occur in San Francisco. Despite its liberal leanings, a 2007 study by The Chronicle found that African Americans in San Francisco are arrested for felonies at nearly twice the rate as in Sacramento and Fresno, and three times the rate in San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego, and four times the rate in Oakland. …

    “While Mayor Lee says that the law would not be applied in a discriminatory fashion, data from stop-and-frisk cities bears out the discriminatory nature of the policy’s implementation. The ACLU found that of the 4 million people stopped and questioned by the New York Police Department since 2002, most were Black or Latino and 90 percent had committed no crime.”

    Adachi concludes: “Stop-and-frisk doesn’t work. Of the hundreds of thousands of frisks conducted in New York last year, a weapon was found in fewer than 2 percent of the stops.”

    “Stop-and-frisk doesn’t work. Of the hundreds of thousands of frisks conducted in New York last year, a weapon was found in fewer than 2 percent of the stops,” writes Public Defender Jeff Adachi.

    Aliya Karmali of the National Lawyers Guild San Francisco Bay Area Chapter stated, “The National Lawyers Guild and others were extremely surprised that Mayor Lee was looking to New York City’s ‘stop-and-frisk’ as a model practice for San Francisco, when the New York City program has been thoroughly discredited and criticized as discriminatory.” Karmali noted that “less than a month ago, on June 17, thousands of New Yorkers marched in the street to protest this precise policy.”

    “Simply put, this initiative targets young minorities of color, legitimizes and legalizes racial discrimination and profiling,” states the Black Young Democrats of San Francisco’s Executive Committee in a release signed by Theo Ellington, Halimah Najieb-Locke, Javieree PurittHill, Leah LaCroix and Obai Rambo.

    They write: “Over the past decade statistics show that of all New Yorkers stopped, 54 percent were African American, 32 percent Latino and 12 percent white. Over half of these people stopped and searched were 14-24 years of age. In addition to this, in 2008 our Sister City of Los Angeles saw ‘for every 10,000 residents stopped, 3,400 more were African American and 360 more were Latino opposed to white. Stopped African Americans are 127 percent more likely and stopped Latinos are 43 percent more likely to be frisked than stopped whites.’

    “The Fourth Amendment protects us against unreasonable search and seizures; however, this policy allows the disregard of ‘probable cause.’ Youth and minorities are directly affected by this intangible idea of what ‘suspicious’ is.”

    These young Black San Franciscans – who invite everyone to sign their petition titled “Mayor Ed Lee: Say No to Stop Frisk for San Francisco” – predict that an official stop-and-frisk policy would swell the Black exodus from San Francisco, already occurring at the highest rate by far of any major U.S. city. In the 15 years between 1990 and 2005, nearly half the Black population was pushed out by economic exclusion, police harassment and mass incarceration.

    “I started this petition on because I couldn’t bear to witness predatory policing practices occurring in my neighborhood,” said Theo Ellington, president of the Black Young Democrats. “It’s sad to know that Ed Lee would even consider something like this. At just 23 years old, I’ve been detained by police numerous times for what appears to be having the wrong skin color in the wrong place.”

    More than 2,000 people have already signed the petition. Ellington plans to deliver the signatures in person to City Hall next week.

    A young Black life stolen by police every 40 hours

    “In 181 days, from Jan. 1 to June 30, 2012, alone, there’s been 110 Black people killed … Every 40 hours a Black person in this country gets killed by the police,” revealed Kali Akuno in his first interview on an explosive new report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. He was a guest of Davey D on KPFA July 10.

    “These killings are definitely not accidental or random acts of violence or the work of rogue cops,” states the report, titled “Report on the Extrajudicial Killings of 110 Black People.” From its findings, MXGM concludes that “the use of deadly force against Black people is standard practice in the United States, and woven into to the very fabric of the society.

    “The corporate media have given very little attention to these extrajudicial killings. We call them ‘extrajudicial’ because they happen without trial or any due process, against all international law and human rights conventions. Those few mainstream media outlets that mention the epidemic of killings have been are unwilling to acknowledge that the killings are systemic – meaning they are embedded in institutional racism and national oppression. On the contrary, nearly all of the mainstream media join in a chorus that sings the praises of the police and read from the same script that denounces the alleged ‘thuggery’ of the deceased. Sadly, too many people believe the police version of events and the media’s ‘blame-the-victim’ narratives that justify and support these extrajudicial killings. …

    “This report documents how people of African descent remain ‘without sanctuary’ throughout the United States. Nowhere is a Black woman or man safe from racial profiling, invasive policing, constant surveillance and overriding suspicion. All Black people – regardless of education, class, occupation, behavior or dress – are subject to the whims of the police whose institutionalized racist policies and procedures require them to arbitrarily stop, frisk, arrest, brutalize and even execute Black people,” according to the report, which is the work of Arlene Eisen, Kali Akuno and Ajamu Baraka.

    “And now we have Mayor Ed Lee – Emperor Ed Lee – wanting to adopt (stop and frisk) to San Francisco. What is this about? And do you connect that with this type of carnage that is occurring with the police?” Davey D asked Kali Akuno. “Absolutely, Davey,” Kali replied. “We need to put it in context. It’s really what I would call a broader program of containment – containment of the Black community and containment of its resistance that’s gone on now for generations.

    “And now we have Mayor Ed Lee – Emperor Ed Lee – wanting to adopt (stop and frisk) to San Francisco. What is this about?” Davey D asked Kali Akuno.

    “It’s these policies of containment” – such as stop and frisk – “that lead to these murders, that lead to 2 million people being incarcerated, and that lead to millions of folks being arrested, detained, harassed and beaten.”

    The report finds that 39 percent of the police murders began with stop and frisk. Police saw the victim as “suspicious.” Young people are in the greatest danger: 71 percent of the police murder victims were 13-31 years old.

    Thirty-five percent were running away from police when they were executed. Seventy-nine percent either were definitely unarmed or the police allegation they were armed is disputed by witnesses.

    In 95 of the 110 deaths, 86 percent, the use of deadly force was “excessive” – unjustified and in violation of basic human rights. Yet only nine of the killers – in fewer than 10 percent of the extrajudicial killings – have been charged with a crime.

    Kenny’s Weekend: Remembering Kenneth Harding July 13-16

    All those statistics describe the extrajudicial killing of Kenneth Harding, 19, murdered over a $2 Muni fare on July 16, 2011, at Third and Oakdale in San Francisco. The people of Bayview Hunters Point remain enraged at the memory of police holding them off with guns while the young man slowly bled to death alone on the sidewalk where he fell.

    “We all know that Kenny was the worst case of stop and frisk and racial profiling, so stand up and say, ‘No, we’re not having it!” The strong, calm voice of Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding has become a Bay Area beacon lighting the way to justice.

    She and Kenny’s many supporters plan a weekend of activities leading up to a shutdown of Muni, San Francisco’s public transit system that includes the T-train Kenny was riding to Bayview Hunters Point when he was stopped by the police who murdered him. The event descriptions come from Denika and her crew.

    Friday, July 13: Press conference, 6 p.m., Third and Oakdale, where Kenneth Harding died; Community Speak Out, 7 p.m., Nation of Islam Mosque 26a, Third and Revere, Bayview Hunters Point, San Francisco.

    Saturday, July 14: Free Community Hip Hop Show, 3-6 p.m., San Francisco City College Ocean Campus in the amphitheater.

    Sunday, July 15: Regular Monthly Community Feed, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Kenny’s (Mendell) Plaza, Third and Palou, San Francisco. The Peoples Community Medics will be in Kenny’s Plaza to teach us how to save one another so we don’t have to depend on ambulance services. When anyone, such as Lil Kenny or Oscar Grant, is denied medical attention, we can step in and help to save their lives.

    Monday, July 16: Kenneth Harding Jr. Shut Down Day, beginning at 6 a.m. at Market and 14th Street, San Francisco. Bring your walking shoes and your determination for justice for people who have been murdered by police for no good reason. Also, a vigil will be held at 5 a.m. at Third and Palou.

    On July 16, it will be one year since the San Francisco Police Department murdered Kenneth Harding Jr. over a $2 Muni fare. The city, the San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (SFMTA) and SFPD are stonewalling on the investigation and aren’t releasing videos they confiscated. The family of Kenneth needs answers. The police shot him in the back but can’t look us in the eye? Kenneth Harding didn’t have to die.

    When we have family emergencies, we SHUT DOWN our work and take care of our loved ones. Shutting it down is normal. Sweeping it under the rug and going about business as usual is not normal. Do any of our city leaders care? So on Monday, July 16, at 6 a.m., we are going to start the Shutdown Movement and SHUT IT DOWN.

    What do we do when they shoot us down? Shut it down! Shut it down!

    Concluding the commemoration, also on Monday, July 16: Vigil for Kenny at Kenny’s Plaza, Third and Palou, 5 p.m.

    Willie Ratcliff can be reached at or (415) 671-0789. Visit the Justice 4 Kenneth Wade Harding Jr. Facebook page for updates on the commemorative events of July 13-16 or call Kenneth Harding’s Uncle Marco at (510) 239-8311. For more information about the “Extrajudicial Killings Report,” contact Kali Akuno at



    1. Watching this human being bleeding to death and law enforcement officers not doing anything to assist him and preventing anyone to render medical aid is witnessing an unspeakable atrocity.

    2. Watching this human being bleeding to death and law enforcement officers not doing anything to assist him and preventing anyone to render medical aid is witnessing an unspeakable atrocity.

    3. "why would San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, a former civil rights attorney, consider importing New York City’s disastrous stop-and-frisk policy?"

      To The Author :

      You ask the question why would a former Civil/rght attrny consider Stp n Frisk
      Like so many immigrants of Color have come to the U.S. and have easily enjoy the benefits of the CiVil/Rights movemnt and yet the poor negro is continuelly getting injustice

      Is because YOU always try to equate your struggles to someone elses struggles. You don't realize these people coming from other nations where the Govt who act as terrorist to its own and supported by the US, come to the US looking for refuge

    4. You, Blacks, didn't come here willingly you came here on slave ships. You didn't come here seeking refuged you were kidnapped and forced into brutal labor and fought stayed here trying to make your enemy except and try making him see you as human and he still treats you as sub-human and he's got his co-horts the Asains and Hispanics benefiting well off of what Dr. King others of the Civil/Rghts movement have fought for

      Those same immigrants of color you share your struggles with once they get in the position of power
      they become Your oppressor after all the institutions of this country are ran by the [Caucasian]Oppressor

      But YOU still don't get it

    5. Didn't Kenneth Harding do time for pimping a 13 year old? Wasn't he wanted for murder? Isn't that why he was shot by police, because he was trying to shoot his way out of being arrested? Murder is the #1 cause of death for young black men, and it isn't the police doing the killing. But you won't protest that will you?

    6. John Mulligan thank you thank you thank you, I've lived on Palou My whole life from the time I woke up for school as a child and now on my way to and from work I see the same people hanging out, drinking, selling, gambling their lives away. Are they all bad? No, some just like hanging out. The problem is our young black men grow up with no male role models so they looked to the older guys who hang out on third. It's sicking how the very same people who I see doing nothing productive and making life harder for those of us who actually live in the area. ( fighting in front of our homes, having very inappropriate conversations in ear shoot of children, peeing in our doorways,leaving trash and beer can on our steps,sitting on people cars, playing dice in people's doorways and playing foul loud music all night and day etc) I have never seen these so called community activist tell or make any youngster leave the block to gain higher education or employment. No they invite them to drink smoke and gamble with them. Yet here they are outrage when some thug in every sense of the word comes into our community and endangers our people with his foolishness. He's not a fallen victim to racial profiling to suggest that he was is crazy. He shout at the police. he choose to commit crimes he wasn't even suppose to in in San Francisco. I wish that he was still alive so he could turn he's life around but he choose a life of death. The police did there job on this one. How about showing the video where another young man picked up Harding's gun instead of pointing it out to the police cause all we need is more of our young people with guns in their hands. I wish you people would stop lying to those in the community who don't know any better. It's shameful really always hollering and yelling telling half truths about injustice but offer little to no solutions while our kids are killing one another faster and more often then any white man or hate group

    7. Maybe Mr. Harding was making the attempt of turning his life around

      But no one knows since the SFPD acted savagly in shooting him in the back 5 times

      If anybody especially blacks condones the act of the SFPD or any police dept in any city in the U.S. to violently murder Black men around the country as justifible deserves to experience the same type of violence the PD is notorious for doing

      Who in the hell gives anybody the justifible right to kill anyone for their choice of life style
      you don't kill homos for being freaks

      As far my prev. statement above receiving 4 negatives, F' the UNCLE TOMs N- and the noisey Cavedwellers who disagrees, that's why whites can come into our community and display the violence against our youths regardless if they are standing around smoking, drinking or just mining their own buisness going to school or work

    8. Today, in this country, between 20-25 young black men will be killed by other black men. Forget 1 every 40 hours at the hands of the police, how about every single hour of every single day for a total somewhere between 8 and 9 thousand every year. With all of this violence occurring, it is no surprise that police officers will often find themselves in situations requiring the use of deadly force. Kenneth Harding was struck one time in the leg with a 40 cal police issue weapon. He sustained a second gun shot wound to the neck which traversed his brain and killed him. That bullet was a 380 cal round, fired by Harding as he was running. Running away while firing back towards your pursuers is a very dangerous activity. Plenty of wailing and nashing of teeth for this one thug and nothing but silence over the deaths of young blacks at the hands of young blacks. Your hypocritical collective "black leadership" should hang their heads in shame for their pathetic inaction to address a self inflicted genocide

    9. It boggles my mind. Now, I’m not a cop supporter by any means. But science and facts indicate that “lil Kenny” not only shot himself but he shot at the cops as well. Why do you repeatedly say the SFPD shot Harding over a two-dollar MUNI Fare? I’m pretty sure that the cops did not just get on the coach, drag him off and shoot him. Harding was not murdered by the police…again it is fact and science. Harding was a convicted sex offender who murdered a pregnant girl in the days prior to his shot out with the SFPD. Who weeps for the woman and her unborn child? Maybe Harding’s mom should have tried to raise an honorable son rather then a murdering sex predator. But, again who needs facts…they don’t sell newspapers.

    10. How the HELL Does an individual shoot at the cops while running in the oposite direction away from the cops, then shoots himself while receiving five shots from SFPD

      WHO The F#ck our we talk'in about SUPERMAN what an A$$H@le statement this city and others like it
      is made up of a bunch NUMB SKULLS with their heads so far up their A$$ it's pathetic

    11. I live in bayview on Quesada. I have to agree with those in the above posts that stated that Harding was in the wrong. The cops did the right thing…he shot at the cops first and they returned fire. I feel safer knowing that a sex offender on parole is not freely roaming the streets in BV.

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