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San Francisco | Police State and Prisons

Melyssa Jo Kelly, a witness to the Charles Hill shooting speaks at the August 15 Protest
by Josh Wolf ( web [at] joshwolf.net )
Tuesday Aug 16th, 2011 2:46 PM
It's difficult to estimate how many people were at the event, but among them was Melyssa Jo Kelly who witnessed Hill's death. In this video, clips from the protest are interwoven with Kelly's account of Hill's killing.
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On July 3rd, BART Police Officer James A. Crowell shot and killed Charles Hill, a 45-year-old homeless man while he was holding a 4-inch knife. Using the same tactic that the San Francisco Bay Area activist community had previously employed following the shooting of Oscar Grant, protestors gathered on the BART platform on July 11th to board the trains en masse in an effort to slow down the system. The action led to the closure of several BART stations.

On July 16 — less than a week after the protest — SFPD officers Matthew Lopez and Richard Hastings shot at Kenneth Harding Jr. while he was running from police. When officers stopped Harding at the 3rd and Oakdale MUNI Platform and asked him to produce a transfer he bolted. The official story is that while he was running away, Harding pulled out a gun and fired at least one shot at police before they returned fire. Police say the shot that killed him pierced his neck on the right side and was fired from his own gun. But some witnesses say that Harding didn't have a gun, and many people in the community still have doubts about what happened.

On August 11, when the media relations department at BART learned of another possible protest, the government agency preemptively cut cell service in the BART tunnels in an effort to stymie the organizers plans. But as very few people were even aware of the protest, the cell interruption was noticed most by the media and regular patrons on BART.

News of the move, which reminded many of the actions that former President Hosni Mubarak took to clamp down on the Egyptian revolution, prompted an inter national outcry. From the ACLU to CNN to Al Jazeera, BART's decision to shutter its cell service for the duration of the protest may have garnered as much press as the shooting itself.

Someone — or perhaps some people — put forward a call for further protest under the banner of Anonymous, a free association "group" with no leaders or any decision-making process. And when the media got hold of the news that "Anonymous" was calling for Monday's protest, they too reported the news of the August 15th protest as well.

It's difficult to estimate how many people were at the event, but among them was Melyssa Jo Kelly who witnessed Hill's death. In this video, clips from the protest are interwoven with Kelly's account of Hill's killing.