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Mothers Unite to Shut Down MUNI at the Kenneth Harding Jr SpeakOut Friday
Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding Jr. who was murdered by SFPD, calls for a movement of mothers against police terror. JOIN THE MUNI SHUTDOWN MONDAY!
On a cold and gloomy San Francisco night, families from around the Bay Area and beyond traveled to the Kenneth Harding Jr. SpeakOut. The event was planned to raise awareness of the murder of Kenneth Harding Jr., a 19-year-old gunned down by SFPD on July 16th of last year and build support for all deaths resulting from police misconduct. In the packed Mosque 26a (Nation of Islam's San Francisco chapter), teary-eyed mothers of victims of police killings recounted stories of their struggle for justice with police departments, city officials and the public.
Rachel Guido Red, the mother of Derrick Gaines, explained how her son--15-years-old and disabled--was shot in the back by South San Francisco police last month. When the coroner's report was released Thursday, Rachel was so overwhelmed that she passed out and had to be taken to the hospital. Lori Davis, mother of Raheim Brown Jr., told the audience about her son's death at the hands of Oakland Unified School District Police. Like many officers who have taken the life of a young Black or Brown youth, one of Brown's killers was promoted. Officer Bhatt was soon demoted back to his post due to public pressure. Dionne Smith-Downs, mother of 16-year-old James Earl Rivera who was shot 48 times by Stockton police wielding assault rifles nearly two-years-ago, still has not received a coroner's report or been provided with the police video. Ms. Smith-Down's impassioned speech ended with her shouting that "This system is not for us!" a reference to the legal system and government not working on the side of anguished families bereft with a police murder.
Denika Chatman, Kenny's mother and main organizer of the event along with Kenny's uncle Q, spoke of the tremendous pain that she has had to endure since the murder of her son and how the situation has forced her to become an activist--moving to the Bay Area from her home in Washington state and organizing for justice. Chatman has been vigilant in attending the rallies and protests for other victims of police terror and sees strength in connecting with other mothers. This form of solidarity, she hopes, will lead to a movement of mothers demanding justice for their children.
Many of the mothers looked to the family of Oscar Grant for guidance. Last year's conviction of Johanes Mesherle was the first conviction of a white officer for the murder of a Black male in history. Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant's uncle, has been working with the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation to organize the weekend's events scheduled to memorialize young Kenny. This afternoon, a free hiphop show in Kenny's honor will be held at City College's Ocean Campus from 3pm-6pm and tomorrow at 3rd Street and Palou Streets in the San Francisco's Bayview district, the Foundation will hold their monthly community feed where they offer bagged lunches to the poor.
Members of Labor Black and Brown, Decolonize Oakland, Oscar Grant Foundation and Idriss Stelley Foundation. have been working with Kenneth Harding's family to build momentum for the MUNI Shutdown Monday. Kenneth Harding Jr. was killed after allegedly evading a $2 MUNI fare. Activists plan to shut down MUNI on the anniversary of his death early Monday morning and are asking allies to meet at 6am at 14th Street and Market in San Francisco.
Rachel, the mother of Derrick Gaines speaks with dignity and determination at the Kenneth Harding Jr. SpeakOut yesterday evening.
Sitting in the front to the right watching her are Lori Davis, mother of Raheim Brown Jr. Applauding in front Denika Chatman, mother of Kenneth Harding Jr. and main event organizer, Behind her is Kenny's uncle Q. Elaine Brown, once Black Panther Party leader watches from a chair behind the podium. (Rachel stands with Archbishop Franzo King, of St. John Coltrane Church)
Kris and AJ, Raheim Brown Jr.'s younger brothers and Kris' girlfriend listen to Oscar Grant's Uncle Bobby (Cephus Johnson) at the Kenneth Harding Jr. SpeakOut yesterday evening organized by Kenny's mom, Denika Chatman and the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation.