Bay Area, California
On Friday, Bay Area Intifada caught up with the mother of Kenneth Harding–the young black youth who was killed over a two-dollar San Francisco MUNI bus fare evasion in July of 2011. [Video–Warning: Graphic] The conversation happened just days before the murderer of Treyvon Martin walked and Amerika’s cities marched, rioted, shut things down and resisted in other less-recognized ways (like the “white journalist beat by a black mob”–videotaped and then pulled off the Internet the next morning). Each city could easily relate Treyvon’s murder to those of numberless sons and daughters lost in their own cities. Denika Chatman, Kenneth’s mother, was handing out a flyer with information about his death at the Oakland premiere of the Fruitvale film–a newly released narrative about Oscar Grant’s murder that was heavily funded by BART and leaves out both the officer’s name and the community’s responsive rage.
(You can catch up on the background details of Kenneth Harding’s murder here.)
“It’s not just my cry that”s important, but the voices of all parents whose children’s lives have been stolen by law enforcement,” Denika told BAI in between reaching out to movie-goers. “MUNI has to take responsibility. You know they send inspectors into the impoverished areas? Bay View, Hunter’s Point, the Mission and nowhere else. They do stop and frisk. Kenneth was the worst case of stop and frisk.” She shifted the sign she was carrying, “I’ve raised boys. We always felt that they condition the youth so they will fear the police–condition them to be afraid. And the officers’ Bill of Rights protects the police from murder.”
“It seems like a lot of times, these struggles get caught up in individual lawsuits that can last for years,” BAI noted.
“Well, there is a federal lawsuit happening. He wasn’t even given medical care.”
“How likely is it that this system will bring justice?” BAI asked her.
“I don’t think about the system,” she quickly retorted. “It’s not here to protect us. The system is so far off when it comes to young men of color. We want to break the school-to-prison pipeline.”
Instead of sitting on her heels while the lawsuit drags on, Denika’s has called for a MUNI shutdown Tuesday. After a Noon BBQ at MLK Park (5701 Third St) in San Francisco, people will gather at Church & Duboce Streets to shut down MUNI at 4PM. At 6:30, there will be a vigil at Third St. & Oakdale.
Denika has also started a community feed in the same place that Kenneth’s “blood stained the ground,” and the feed has expanded to include a clothes and coat drive. To help with that, visit their WePay here or watch for updates on their Facebook here.