Mother of Kenneth Harding Jr. rallies at CCSF campus

By Lucas Almeida

The Guardsman

 

Denika Chatman speaks to OccupyCCSF in the Student Union Center on Oct. 20, 2011. Chatman is the mother of Kenneth Harding Jr., and has left her home in Seattle, Washington to speak about the altercation with SFPD that lead to the death of her son. VALERIA AYALA / THE GUARDSMAN

Kennith Harding Jr’s mother, outraged by her son’s death, met Thursday Oct. 20 with protest organizers and supporters inside the cafeteria on Ocean campus to plan a day of awareness against police brutality.

The National Day of Protest was held two days later in the Bayview district. Harding’s mother Danika Chatman was the featured speaker at the protest. Her primary goal in life, she said, is to fight against the injustices that led to her son’s death.

After the death of Kenneth Harding Jr. Chatman moved from Seattle to San Francisco to rally against police brutality with the Bayview community.

“My life changed overnight, my life is no longer about me,” said Chatman. “I’ve had to relocate from Seattle to come out here and fight this battle.”

On July 16, San Francisco police officers stopped Kenneth Harding Jr. on the Third Street and Oakdale Muni platform. Police asked him for a transfer. Harding ran. Shots were fired. During the firefight, Harding was shot and bled to death in front a crowd of bystanders.

Police said Harding fatally shot himself in the neck.Witnesses argue that Harding didn’t have a gun. Many people in the community still have doubts about what happened.

“Everyday I’m reaching out to students in high school and college classrooms, trying to build some awareness in order to prevent this from happening to anyone else,” said Chatman. “That’s my mission and goal in life, because I don’t want anyone else to become another Kenneth Harding Jr.”

Activist and City College student DeBray Carpenter avidly spoke about Harding’s death in the weeks following the shooting, calling for greater police accountability. Organizing protests and speaking on television news, Capenter hopes Bayview will get his message.

“Whoever stands with the police does not stand with the community,” said Carpenter during a protest on Oct. 18, against Harding’s death.

Carpenter was arrested shortly after the protest for the third time since Harding’s death.

“It hurts me to know that people supporting my son have been brutalized and incarcerated by the police, for speaking out about what they saw,” said Chatman.

October 22, hundreds of people in Bayview got Chatman’s and Carpenter’s message and marched in protest against police brutality..

In response to Harding’s death, City College Board of Trustee Chris Jackson is currently working on legislation to reform the SFPD Police Academy, whose curriculum is approved by City College. He plans to increase community outreach from the SFPD to the Bayview and require more officers to live in San Francisco city limits.