While I’m sensitive to police relations with SF’s black community, activists picked THE WORST POSSIBLE martyr to put on a pedestal in Kenneth Harding Jr. This “man” was simply not a good guy. He was convicted for armed robbery, and during his period of home detention, forced a 13 year old girl–that’s 13 years old folks, to have oral sex with him, then forced her to drive out with him to Seattle’s prostitution strip where he ordered her to prostitute herself. She contacted the police and he was arrested and convicted for this, not his first pimp conviction.
When he jumped the MUNI faregate in Bayview, he was on the lam from murdering a 19 year-old girl in a shootout that killed four others–he was the central “person of interest” His brother, arrested for also participating in that violent shootout, confirmed Harding’s involvement. This Seattle shooting had occurred less than a week before Harding, when confronted by SF transit cops, drew the SAME gun that was used in the Seattle shooting, so it’s pretty simple to deduce Harding’s state of mind: he saw the police after him, figured that if detained, his warrants would come up, guaranteeing a return to prison for a likely lifetime term, and decided to go down shooting, and so drew down on the officers. I’m no fan of macho cop gun violence, but given the extreme amounts of civilian gun violence that does go down on the streets, policemen are entirely justified in shooting to kill a subject who is drawing a lethal weapon on them.
The activist community was all over the racial profiling element. When this was all going down, I Googled my way to the Indymedia site and found a raging discussion about the injustice, with some commentors even saying that this was the event they’d been waiting for to kick off a summer of protest. I foolishly made a few comments questioning the activist view that put forth that Kenneth Harding was a completely innocent soul not at all in the throes of running across state lines from the law, and that he had no weapon–he was mysteriously shot out of the blue for the crime of jumping a faregate. I brought up his violent, sexually predatory background, the timing of the crime from which he was fleeing, and the discovery of ballistics that tied bullets shot from his gun to the bullets that slew four people in Seattle. The unified, pat response from like 100 angry activists was that the police lie about everything, if Harding had been a white guy drawing a gun while running from the cops he would have been left to escape with a hearty fare-thee-well, and absolutely nothing negative about Kenneth Harding could possibly be true. Predictably, I was called a racist, Nazi, and many other inflammatory assumptions about both my race and my politics.
When Kenneth Harding was held up as an angel–they actually circulated a stencil (above) of a grinning Harding with angel wings–angel wings! for guerilla street art–thousands of progressive people like myself lost all faith in the activist community. It made me wonder what was really behind all the outrage, who was steering this train, and for what reason.
Where is the black community’s outrage for the scores of young black girls’ lives he ruined and the 19 year-old black girl he killed? Too many times, when young black men commit unspeakable crimes, often with ultra-violent sexual predation on black women, the black community refuses to hang their villain out to dry, and show up en masse at their darling’s trial with crocodile tears for their dear little sociopath while the unspoken message to black women is “you don’t matter”. There is often pressure from within the black community on women victims to not testify or press charges, and there is a disturbing number of cases in which witnesses have been removed from the land of the living right before a trial. The whole “Don’t Snitch” culture victimizes the huge numbers of black victims of black-on-black crime while it lionizes the gangster thugs and their disgusting lifestyles of violence and sexual predation.
This creep is absolutely NOT the right guy to lionize, and his intensely violent and sexually predatory history puts the MUNI shooting in a entirely different light. I find myself quoting the once-radical Public Enemy, whose members have largely since descended into the underworld of thuglife: “Don’t believe the hype!”