Kenneth Harding Jr.: Three years after SFPD murdered my son, just demonizing, no justice

by Denika Chatman

Three years ago, on July 16, 2011, life happened for me. I had awakened to the news that San Francisco police killed my 19-year-old son, Kenneth Harding Jr., for allegedly evading a $2 bus fare.

Kenneth Harding Jr. with his mother, Denika Chatman
Kenneth Harding Jr. with his mother, Denika Chatman

I’d like to say thank you to the Bayview Hunters Point community that has embraced me while openly loving me – a community that welcomed me after witnessing the police murder my son.

It’s hard to accept that he is gone, because I still have no closure. I don’t want to continue to live this horrible dream over and over again. It’s hard when you’re trying to find out what happened to your child but no one will produce the facts that support the theory that he supposedly killed himself. The police put that message out there and never backed it up, hoping to take away any sense of empathy.

They tried to say that Kenneth had murdered a young lady in Seattle, when he was never charged with that murder and two people have been in jail since the second day after her murder occurred and they’re awaiting sentencing. However, the media has never come back and told you the truth that someone has been arrested for the young lady’s murder.

They wanted to plant the image in people’s minds that Kenny was a cold blooded killer so people would think he deserved to be murdered by the police. They’ve even said he was a pimp, to take away any sense of empathy.

SFPD wanted to plant the image in people’s minds that Kenny was a cold blooded killer so people would think he deserved to be murdered by the police.

He went to prison because a young girl had lied about her age and she had offered and he accepted. This is why he received 18 months. Washington state has a mandatory sentencing of five years for anyone found guilty of promoting prostitution. If he had been sentenced for pimping, he might still be alive.

At that time they had the MySpace transcripts that proved he was wrong for being willing to collect money from her but, more importantly, it proved that she had lied about her age. As I have stated many times, these are public records if anyone was ever interested in the truth.

The claim that really caught me after every dehumanizing word they have said about me and my children was that Kenneth was a career criminal. He hadn’t been alive long enough to be a career criminal.

The claim that really caught me after every dehumanizing word they have said about me and my children was that Kenneth was a career criminal. He hadn’t been alive long enough to be a career criminal.

Every human has messed up or done some stupid things during their teenage years and lived to tell about it. They knew it was wrong and yet they didn’t want their parents to find out they did something stupid.

However, when it comes to my 19-year-old son, the police and the major media want to tag him as not human for making a wrong choice in life. We have all made a wrong choice in life, but it doesn’t make us career criminals.

The media then turns to me and asks me how come I didn’t know what my son was doing. As a mother, I ask how many parents know what their teenage children are actually doing when they leave the house versus what the children tell them they’re going to do.

Denika Chatman sets up the monthly community feed on the corner still stained with the blood of her son, Kenneth Harding Jr., with the faithful assistance of her youngest child, daughter Mineika Chatman, now 7. People from the Hunters Point community – many of them witnesses to the police murder of Kenny – come hungry and leave with all the food they can carry.
Denika Chatman sets up the monthly community feed on the corner still stained with the blood of her son, Kenneth Harding Jr., with the faithful assistance of her youngest child, daughter Mineika Chatman, now 7. People from the Hunters Point community – many of them witnesses to the police murder of Kenny – come hungry and leave with all the food they can carry.

Since the murder of my son, the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation was formed with me, Tracey Bell-Borden and Al Osorio. We came into the Bayview Hunters Point community to the very spot where Kenneth’s blood still stains the ground – at Third Street and Oakdale – and we started a monthly community feed.

We started on the third Sunday of February 2011 and we’re still going. This month will be our 29th consecutive month of feeding the community. We have grown as a foundation so much within these two years. We have our free lunches, a free Kenny’s market – all items are free to the community – and a farmer’s market. We have had many community coat and clothing drives. So as a mother, it makes me really proud to see so many people get involved and volunteer, such as the Alan Blueford coalition, the Oscar Grant Foundation, the Bay View newspaper and the many volunteers.

We started on the third Sunday of February 2011 and we’re still going. This month will be our 29th consecutive month of feeding the community at Kenny’s Korner, where he died.

I honestly just wanted to do something to give back to this community that was traumatized from witnessing such a heinous murder, and I wanted them to know that I stand with them and someone cares about them. To receive the feedback that we have as a foundation has been very overwhelming because there is so much emotional attachment for everyone there in Hunters Point because of what happened at that very spot where we serve the community.

A very young Kenneth Harding Jr. looked forward to a bright future – stolen from him by SFPD.
A very young Kenneth Harding Jr. looked forward to a bright future – stolen from him by SFPD.

The community has now coined a name for the corner, calling it Kenny’s Korner. I have to go to his murder spot every month and know that I can’t allow my emotions to get me caught up because I have to focus on the community that needs help.

I have been down with two broken ankles, and I just had surgery on one. While I’ve been down, the foundation, coalitions and volunteers have been keeping everything going for me because they know how important the feed is to me. The foundation has also been going to other events on my behalf to show solidarity with the many families that are grieving as we continue to build Kenneth’s legacy.

I feel really bad that I can’t stand up for Kenneth on the third year anniversary of his murder. So I give you my word we will do something big for the community to recognize Kenneth’s life when I am fully recovered.

I am blessed to be able to help others, and I want to thank everyone who makes it happen every month, including our seniors who come and volunteer. I want everyone to know that they matter and that there are still good people in this world. I want them to know that people care about their well-being and that we will continue to stand with the community that stands with us.

I am blessed to be able to help others, and I want to thank everyone who makes it happen every month, including our seniors who come and volunteer. We will continue to stand with the community that stands with us.

Kenneth’s trial has been moved from September 2014 to May 2015 at my request. I’m still trying to get criminal charges filed against the officers.

I want people to see that they never need to give up on their fight for justice. No matter what the outcome is, you can always do things to honor your child and have peace within yourself by knowing that you have done the right thing by standing up for your child and becoming your child’s voice.

I couldn’t be here if it wasn’t for all of you offering strong shoulders for me to lean on. The love I get from Hunters Point is true California love. I also receive so much love and compassion from around the world as people become aware of what happened to Kenneth.

I gave you my word three years ago that I wouldn’t leave the community hanging, and I’m still here 29 months later serving the people and doing street ministry. Can’t stop won’t stop till the PIGS are in cell blocks.

Officer Richard Hastings received a medal of valor for the murder of my son and since then he has been arrested on eight counts of child sodomy and two counts of child pornography. This man actively works as an officer who’s supposed to serve and protect.

Officer Richard Hastings received a medal of valor for the murder of my son and since then he has been arrested on eight counts of child sodomy and two counts of child pornography. The police and the media didn’t demonize him for being a pedophile who chose to break the law.

The police and the media didn’t demonize him for being a pedophile who chose to break the law. This is the reason why we have to continue to stand up and fight back. We have to stay vigilant to what’s happening in this corrupt city and in our communities because next time it could be your child.

Denika Chatman can be reached via Facebook on her own page or the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation Community Feeds page. Donations are always welcome and needed at the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation GoFundMe page.