July 17, 2012
Demonstrators disrupted San Francisco Municipal Railway service Monday morning to mark the one-year anniversary of the shooting death of 19-year-old Kenneth Harding Jr.
Harding died in an exchange of gunfire with police after he dodged his Muni fare and fled from officers. Family and supporters maintain Harding was shot by police, who allowed him to bleed to death of multiple gunshot wounds. However, investigators later said that the bullet that killed Harding appeared to have been fired from his own gun, not a police weapon.
Today’s action brought Harding’s mother a modicum of relief.
“My son was racially profiled on the T-train, stopped and frisked, gave chase and then shot and bled to death for 28 minutes,” said Denika Chatman, who came in disguise to avoid the scrutiny of police. Chatman said she wants the officers charged with the murder of her son.
Shortly before 7am, protesters gathered at Church and Duboce streets, blocking light-rail cars from entering and exiting the tunnel system, Muni spokesman Paul Rose said. Shuttle buses substituted for the N and J lines until 7:30am when the protesters were cleared from the intersection, Rose said.
The protesters then moved to the Muni headquarters at 1 Van Ness Ave., holding signs that read, “RIP Little Kenny,” “They Shoot Us Down, We Shut It Down” and “Stop the Brutality.”
Police in riot gear stood by but made no arrests. The plan was to gather again at Third Street and Palou Avenue for a 5pm vigil.
The Oscar Grant Foundation and Labor Black and Brown helped organize the event.
“Harding was shot over a $2 ticket,” longtime activist Charles DeBois said. “We are appealing to all workers of union people to use union power to fight for themselves.”
“We cost the city money and time and we are very successful in what we wanted to accomplish,” said Marco Harding, the victim’s uncle. “We hope to bring this to national awareness.”
Bay City News Service contributed to this report