The following is based upon Davey D’s articles covering the recent police shooting of a young black male who was left to die in the streets of the San Francisco.
I didn’t know how to approach this latest example of police murder mainly because the circumstances that lead up to the shooting constantly change according to media reprots and San Francisco Police Department’s (SFPD) statements. Let me give you a quick summary of what took place on that fateful day:
On Saturday July 17 San Francisco Police shot 19-year old Kenneth Harding in the SF Bayview District. The young man was still alive after being shot a number of times as a camera recroded his final moments struggling in a pool of his own blood. No officers were harmed. However, no officers offered any medical assistance to Harding, and he died shortly after. News about this incident circulated activist blogs in almost no time. Many reported that the shooting was a result of Harding not having any bus fare which was said to be $2. He ran away, and the police shot at him.
Now here’s where things get complicated:
Soon after hearing about the shooting, new reports stated that Harding was indeed armed, and shot at the officers first prompting them to shoot back. A Youtube video generating lots of hits has footage of the aftermath of the shooting with police taping the area that was surrounded by local citizens. There was an object, which some believed to be a gun, to be no more than 10 feet away from the police. The object was obtained by a hooded, young man, but SFPD says they have the gun, but not the man who grabbed it.
I don’t know what that was, but that object was the first gun I’ve seen that was a rectangle and colored pink, but I digress.
Many witnesses stated that they did not see Harding fire any shots at the police. Yet, the SFPD says they have witnesses that stated otherwise, and the “proof” was in the video. Plus, the police said they found gun residue on Harding’s hand.
There are more reports that Harding had a criminal record which included prostitution promotion and robbery. The SFPD stated that Harding was a person of interest (not a suspect) in a case involving the shooting death of a pregnant girl in Seattle and was on the run. Soon after, there is word that Harding is innocent of the murder and the girl wasn’t pregnant. Nevertheless, it implies that Harding was a dangerous suspect in which the police felt it was necessary to put him down by any means.
Now, the SFPD is stating that Harding shot himself…
See what I mean? The more you hear about this murder, the more confusing it gets. One thing remains clear: The residents of the community in that area are angered by a police homicide that took place several days after the murder of homeless man, Charles Blair Hill, by police. And people across the nation are outraged by another example of law enforcement’s disregard of human lives especially if they are poor and(or) black.
Some people are already saying that Kenneth Harding deserved to get killed. After all, he had a record, and he committed some terrible crimes. However, some of those same people said the same thing about Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, and other black men and women who haven’t had a record and (or) never committed any crime at the time of their deaths. It’s so easy for people to assume the worst in black people even after their murders at the hands of police. Society and history helped to create the image that dark skin symbolizes evil and criminality, and it is not based on fact, but on fear, ignorance, and a warped sense of morality. People will instantly assume guilt when a police officer assaults, shoots, or murders a black person, a black male in particular. They will believe that the black person deserved it without hesitation.
Kenneth Harding may have committed horrible crimes in the past, but to discover that he was killed in cold blood by police sets off a firestorm within communities across the land. It is not simply because the vicitm was black, and black people stick together along with their criminals as the belief goes. It is because the police act as judge, jury, and executioner in a fraction of a second, and the ongoing disrespect they have towards poor black, and brown lives. The police have always had a sorry relationship with black communities, and it is due to the stereotype that blacks are more criminal, and the fear most police have of black men.
Some believe that blacks are more upset at police killings than they are about so-called black-on-black crime. That is another myth that needs to be put to rest. As upset and angry as we are towards police harassment, brutality, and homicide, we are just as angry, if not more, at the crime and violence that cripples some of our communities. There are (black) people who actively take it upon themselves to address the issue and do something about it. They know they can only do so much, and they know they will not stop all of the violence, but at the very least they are trying. Black people are aware that in this land, you have to be on guard on all sides at all times when it comes from opposing forces coming from inside and outside their neighborhoods.
By the way, those who criticize our progress are likely those who wouldn’t dare lift a finger to help.
In the final analysis this nation disregards the lives of its poor and people of color. Some people are too blind by their ignorance to take in that fact. We must be aware that even in the 21st century, the hunt is on, and we are still the prey.