by Michelle Chan, Parents Against CPS Corruption

Kishana Harley and Patricia Perez at an Oscar Grant Foundation gala

I still remember that day, that housing project, that door, and that frantic phone call that came in an hour later as I sat in front of the Safeway in El Cerrito Del Norte eating my dinner, a bland and overpriced sushi roll from the sushi counter sold to me by a Chinese man who reminded me of my now-deceased grandpa. It was a cloudless day, the sky intensely blue.

If only I’d known on that day, as I taped onto the front door of apartment 11 on 575 Berk Ave. in the Monterey Pines Apartments in Richmond, California, a flyer that read, “Fight CPS and COURT CORRUPTION. Recall Judges Rebecca Hardie, Lois Haight, and Jill Fannin” – if only I’d known that behind that door would be the scene of a gruesome and senseless murder just three months later.

I didn’t answer the phone the first time Harley called, because it was a New York City area code and because I was tired and hungry and done for the day, but Harley called again and again and again. Finally, I answered, my mouth filled with a supermarket sushi roll, and my heart melted as I listened to this woman crying.

“I found your flyer today on my door. Judge Rebecca Hardie is my judge. She is so corrupt … and until now I thought I was all alone in this.” The way she spoke to me was so real, so honest, so affecting.

Over the next few months, I spoke, emailed and messaged with Harley as she told me her story of abuse, bias and court misconduct. She sent me text messages and emails in which she repeatedly attempted to fire her court-appointed attorney, Rick Horn.

In his email correspondence with her, Horn, in my opinion, attempted to chill her freedom of speech and association by claiming that she cannot discuss the details of her case with her peers. In those emails, he referred to us as Harley’s “support” group.

“I found your flyer today on my door. Judge Rebecca Hardie is my judge. She is so corrupt … and until now I thought I was all alone in this.” The way she spoke to me was so real, so honest, so affecting.

Harley was distraught because she won a reversal in the appeals court, a decision that the lower court failed to uphold. However, it is unclear to me who is responsible for this apparent miscarriage of justice, as Harley is now dead.

Kishana Harley: community organizer, defender of the weak, advocate for justice

Kishana Harley was born in Jamaica and grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where she obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Harley grew up in Brooklyn back when Brooklyn was still rough and gunshots could still be heard at night echoing through the housing projects, back when it was dangerous for outsiders to wander through certain neighborhoods and certain streets. Her upbringing left an imprint on her, teaching her at an early age of injustice and oppression.

After moving to Richmond, California, Harley became active in the Justice 4 Pedie Perez movement. Twenty-four-year-old Pedie Perez was shot and killed by a police officer, Wallace Jensen, outside a liquor store near his family’s business. A Citizen Police Review Commission later found that Jensen used excessive force, but he was never charged criminally for the shooting. See https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2018/05/03/citizen-commission-rules-excessive-force-in-2014-shooting-of-unarmed-man-by-police/.

Pedie’s story and the issue of police brutality and social injustice struck Harley to the core. Having grown up in the innercity of New York and overcoming homelessness and domestic violence, Harley learned first-hand that there are haves and then there are have-nots. The killing of young men and women in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods continues to be a national crisis.

After moving to Richmond, California, Harley became active in the Justice 4 Pedie Perez movement. Twenty-four-year-old Pedie Perez was shot and killed by a police officer, Wallace Jensen, outside a liquor store near his family’s business.

Once upon a time, it was something people didn’t talk about. Now that people talk about it and protest against it, still, not much seems to be changing.

Each killing is a local story and bleeds in the hearts of mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, bystanders and former lovers, bleeds in the streets long after the heart of the victims have long since stopped. Each killing reminds those left living that, sometimes, nothing can keep us safe from the streets and from the police and from death and that there is no such thing as trust, no such thing as justice.

Pedie’s story and the issue of police brutality and social injustice struck Harley to the core.

Somehow Pedie’s story and the connection of his killing to her neighborhood touched Harley, galvanized her. Harley joined the Justice 4 Pedie Perez movement (www.justice4pedie.com) and with the Oscar Grant Committee (https://www.oscargrantcommittee.org/) and was working to get the Value Human Life bill passed into law, which proposes that police officers who kill or cause serious bodily injury must be suspended without pay during investigation, that police officers cannot investigate themselves, and that police officers who fire on innocent unarmed civilians are fired. Harley was working on this at the time of her death.

Kishana Harley was stabbed to death on July 19, 2018, in her apartment at Monterey Pines Apartments on Berk Avenue in Richmond.

Justice 4 Kishana Harley

Harley joined Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, to stand up for family rights and to increase accountability and transparency by Contra Costa County’s child welfare system and juvenile court. She wanted her CPS corruption story told in the media, wanted a civil rights attorney to sue the county, and wanted to help others who had lost their children to the foster care system receive fairness and justice.

All I know about Harley’s case is what she told me in emails, text messages and Facetime calls. I can play back her voice messages, I can read her emails, I can tell you what my thoughts on all this are, but she was murdered before she and I had a chance to discuss her case at length, before I had a chance to look at the appeal that she had won, the appeal that Judge Rebecca Hardie refused to uphold.

Harley joined Parents Against CPS Corruption, or PACC, to stand up for family rights and to increase accountability and transparency by Contra Costa County’s child welfare system and juvenile court.

There are so many questions left unanswered. I tried for weeks to locate this appeal that Harley claimed reversed the trial court’s jurisdiction of her children, except juvenile cases are confidential and the names in the cases are redacted. Moreover, not all appeals are published. I searched every appeal I could find that reversed the trial court’s decision, with no luck. It was a needle in a haystack.

But knowing what I know about Judge Rebecca Hardie and about Contra Costa CFS (Children and Family Services, more commonly referred to as CPS, Child Protective Services), knowing Harley’s character and the urgency and sincerity with which she interacted with me, I believe from the bottom of my heart that she was a victim of a corrupt system and that her children were greatly harmed in their removal from her care.

Two senseless murders. First Pedie, then Harley. Now Harley’s four children will have to live the rest of their lives without a mother. And Pedie’s parents and grandparents will have to live the rest of their lives without a son and grandson.

Two senseless murders. First Pedie, then Harley.

Patricia Perez is Pedie’s grandmother and was also a close friend of Harley’s. “Harley’s murder has shocked me inside out. Harley came to us through Pedie’s murder. And now, now we are fighting for justice not just for Pedie, but for Harley too.”

Harley’s alleged murderer was 17 years old and is currently being tried in the same court that Harley was protesting, the same court that had removed Harley’s children from her custody and then allegedly failed to uphold her appeal.

Michelle Chan is founder and president of Parents Against CPS Corruption, an activist organization fighting for greater accountability and transparency of California’s child welfare system and juvenile courts. To find out more about protests and marches or for advocacy and peer support and to learn more about PACC’s cause, visit www.ParentsAgainstCPSCorruption.com, www.FixOurCourts.com, call 415-815-9415 or email protest@parentsagainstCPScorruption.com.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent, heartfelt storytelling of a wronged parent by an evil, egregious system.

    Michelle Chan captured the very essence of the person, Kishana Harley, as well as her story and fight for justice for herself and her family in a labyrinth cesspool court system.

    Kishana Harley, did what most people don't do, she took her anger, her anxiety and her pain and turned it into not only doing good, but, doing good by joining with others to fight for the rights of other victims of abuse, murder and injustice.

    I suspect that Uncle Bobby, Oscar Grant's uncle, must be grieving the loss of Kishana Harley.

    She will be missed by many, including me, who never met her, but, respect and admire her great courage and decency.

    May her memory be for a blessing.

  2. Not #FAKENEWS @realDonaldTrump @VP The thumbprint of Judge Jill Fannin as well as other "known" #badactors IE : Nemsik case.

  3. I am so sorry Parents are dying because they are fighting this corruption. I isn’t in one location. It’s all over the world. I am on so many fb groups, for parents rights, and court/CPS corruption. It just makes me cry some days more than I normally do. As I am helping my fiance fight for his son from a narcissist and abuser. She managed to get him out in jail for a email from her lawyer to the Da stating, look at these 1 sided text messages you can see the paranoid state of mind. This is what put him in jail! No physical evidence of abuse or anything!. These courts NEED to be reevaluated and fresh people put where the corruption is.

  4. It's Very SAD for all us us who knew and loved Kishana Harley. We were doing everything that we could, to try to help her get her children back with her, while they never should have been removed from her, in the first place. ALL of us were looking forward to her getting them back…and now, that can never be. Her 4 children have been robbed of their loving mother…forever.

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