Update on Kenneth Harding, Who Was Shot Saturday in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters’ Point District: The Guy Was a Convicted Pimp

Kenneth Harding, shown in his mug shot for the Washington Department of Corrections (Courtesy: SFGate)

Man, curiouser and curiouser it gets regarding the case of Kenneth Harding who was shot by the SFPD Saturday, and caused outrage among Bay Area blacks and blacks nationwide.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, Harding was a former pimp who had been accused of forcing a 13-year-old girl to perform a blow job on him while he was under house arrest.  The girl went to the cops with this claim, but it was eventually dismissed. A while after this event, Harding kidnapped the girl and demanded that she whore for him on Seattle’s mean streets.

The teen victim called police saying Harding stranded her on a Seattle street after trying to force her to prostitute on “the track” near Seattle Center. The victim, who had turned 14 by then, refused, police said.

Harding commanded her to charge $50 for oral sex and $100 for full sex, and gave her several condoms to use, according to the victim’s account to police. She told Harding “no, that she is not a whore,” the police report said.

He told her “she was either going to make “ho’ money” and get a ride back or he was going to leave her there,” the report said. Harding ended up stranding her on a strange street, it said.

Police arrested Harding on Jan. 7 of last year after the victim led cops to his home.

“She said that was where she had oral sex with him on Feb. 6, 2009, when he was under home detention for armed robbery,” the police report said.

That child had enough inner strength not to submit any further to this physical, emotional and psychic intimidation and rape by Harding. Unfortunately, though, neighborhood activists are still outraged and are calling for DA George Gascón, a former S.F. police chief, not to have anything to do with the ongoing case, citing a conflict of interest.  They also renewed their calls for FBI intervention.

“I don’t care if this kid was like the chainsaw massacre poster child,” activist Mesha Irizarry said. “You don’t die like a rabid dog with nobody helping you.”

Protestors accuse cops of doing nothing while the injured Harding lay dying in front of numerous witnesses.

Well, the cops shot to kill, not to maim.  I wish that they hadn’t, for reasons I’ll explain further.  But if he did shoot first, Harding shot to kill too, in order to make his getaway.  I wish he hadn’t either.

Unless the You Tube three minute long raw video I saw and posted yesterday was heavily edited, thus flattening the amount of time it took for Harding to get help, the cops appear to doing several things: (1) trying to protect themselves from the residents; (2) trying to protect themselves from the prone and bleeding Harding, who is still struggling to get up, and who in their opinion may still want to peel off another shot; (3) trying protect bystanders from the shooter, and (4) to keep them from coming close and contributing to disturbing or destroying evidence in the crime scene.

Understand that at this point, the cops may not know if Harding is still armed, although the pistol is supposedly lying some 15-20 feet away and is about to be absconded with.  Harding doesn’t look like he is able to shoot anyone. Everyone is very close to getting shot–witnesses and residents alike.  It all happens in a matter of seconds and not minutes to me.  Amid all the shouting and cursing, the sirens are clearly sounding from the approach of the paramedics at nearly a minute into the video as well as back-up. By two minutes and a half, a cop is bending over and talking and touching Harding, and it is not one of the shooters. The graphic video, showing Harding with his life’s blood on the pavement, does not record when the paramedics actually came to him or when he was loaded into the ambulance for the trip to S.F. General.

Yesterday evening, July 19, about 150 protesters clashed with cops after a rally at 18th and Church Streets (Delores Park) turned violent. The protesters marched through the Mission to the Castro–two of San Francisco’s famous neighborhoods–smashing windows and vandalizing property. When they arrived at Castro and Market Streets, the throng disrupted traffic and held up the F-Market line, the Historic Trolley Festival cars. Thirty-five protesters were arrested when they refused to disperse. This demonstration erupted after Police Chief Suhr announced at a press conference that gunshot residue had been found on the dead Harding’s right hand. And for those of you who need reminding,

The presence of GSR [gunshot residue] on an individual’s hand indicates that either the individual fired a gun, the individual was in close proximity to a gun as it was discharged or that the individual touched a gun or other object with GSR on its surface and particles were transferred to his or her hands.

No gunshot residue was found on Harding’s left hand.  I’ve never in my life heard of gunshot residue being planted on someone’s hand. If someone has a different idea, let me know.

And Harding may have shot first thinking he was about to be caught for his Seattle crimes. It doesn’t mean that the cops knew who Harding was or why he might have been in San Francisco or were specifically looking for him. In all, ten shots were said to have been exchanged between the cops and Kenneth Harding. Harding was shot about seven times in the back.  The forensics, though, have yet to be released.

Harding also spent time in the slam for a robbery conviction while he was a juvenile.

Tanaya Gilbert, shown on Graduation Day from high school with her parents; at least she completed high school, unlike her assailant (Courtesy: KOMO-TV)

Furthermore, the 19-year-old woman Harding killed in Seattle, though, was not pregnant contrary to earlier reports.

The Seattle Times has reported that [Tanaya] Gilbert was not pregnant. The medical examiner told Gilbert’s mother (Chekel Cox) the autopsy reports prove she wasn’t, the newspaper reported.

The King County Medical Examiner would not confirm that claim to The San Francisco Examiner, saying the information would not be publicly available until the death certificate is filed.

The Seattle Times also had this from yesterday:

White and black residents from the Rainier Beach area where Tanaya Gilbert was shot to death hold a prayer vigil in her name; 40 of them completed a prayer walk and also prayed at two churches (Courtesy: Seattle Times)

Gilbert, 19, was shot to death in a car in South Seattle during a shooting that saw three others wounded. Police have been searching for her killer since; relatives previously said she may have been targeted for speaking out about an earlier shooting, or simply shot at random following a chance encounter.

Rose Bankston, Gilbert’s aunt, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday that the Seattle shooting was “a freak accident.”

“She was in a wrong place at the wrong time,” Bankston said. The shooter, she said, “had a dispute with someone on the street, and he opened fire. She was an innocent girl caught in the cross fire. It’s a sad case, just a sad case.”

I wonder what made people say that Tanaya Gilbert was preggers.  Or was a prostitute herself.  Deliberate disinformation meant to justify a murder? Or the usual wild speculation that occurs in the first 24 hours after such an event?

Aufu Snow, 17, didn't know Tamaya Gilbert, but he made up this shirt in her honor and came to her neighborhood vigil last week (Courtesy: Seattle P-I)

On top of it all, when friends and family appeared at a vigil for the young woman in South Seattle, it was halted by a 17-year-old boy, William Myles, who saw someone he didn’t like in a car that pulled up, and fired.  Yup. You guessed it:  gang-related.

The two cops who shot Harding, both of whom are black, have been placed on administrative leave, but their names remain unknown ostensibly to protect their reputations, but it also keeps people from finding out about whether they’ve misbehaved before or have displayed certain tendencies.  The names of police who shoot suspects are often withheld in California, a practice that has garnered criticism over the years, because it runs counter to the California Public Records Act, which is supposed to guarantee government accountability. And cops have a tendency to place themselves and other cops above the law. There is going to be yet another fresh lawsuit regarding this issue and the Harding case.

I dunno. I am not there in San Francisco or the Bay Area to witness all this, and only those who live there could give a decent account of all these happenings. However, it looks to me that this is absolutely the wrong guy to build into some kind of street hero, or as a conduit to protest other current issues in the community, which includes why blacks are leaving the Bay Area. Why? Because this guy tried to pimp a 14-year-old black girl, and is said to have murdered a 19-year-old black woman. That’s why. These could be any mother or father’s daughter, any brother’s sister, and any sister’s sister.  Because of this, I am not so inclined to jump up and down for Kenneth Harding; if I were there in San Francisco, I wouldn’t even join a demonstration.  Kenneth Harding sought to spread his self-hatred onto black girls and women.

So, it is difficult for me to fit Harding in with other brothers, to turn such episodes into advocacy and social action leading to change. Oscar Grant I could see. Charles Hill, the brother the homeless white man who was shot by two  BART cops last week for allegedly coming at them with a knife–brother the guy was only drunk and disoriented–and even Rodney King. But not Kenneth Harding.  Not this guy.  I think folks should be choosing their battles carefully, and advocating for certain brothers, lest they be seen as protesting too much. I’m the last person to be jumping on the side of the cops when it comes to these kinds of shootings, dig me? I’m not saying that black folks should not care, nor contend with cops over what they claim are merely procedures and policies, nor demonstrate, albeit peacefully.

What I really object to are the itchy trigger fingers of pumped-up cops wanting to start something or beat or shoot someone, and they aren’t thinking. In this case, for me, it may boil down to the fact that the two uninjured cops who shot Harding fleeing the T train shot him in the back, which is always seen by African Americans as the lynching by cop bullets no matter what color those fingers are pulling the triggers. They could have shot at his legs or shot his behind off. He could still be alive for extradition, and for Tanaya Gilbert’s family to have closure at a trial.  But no. As Tanaya Gilbert’s aunt Rose Bankston said in another article about the circumstances of Harding’s death, there is yet another black family going through hell, who has to bury one more black child.

No doubt, there is going to be more about Harding as well as Charles Hill in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned.

~ by blksista on July 20, 2011.

9 Responses to “Update on Kenneth Harding, Who Was Shot Saturday in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters’ Point District: The Guy Was a Convicted Pimp”

  1. http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/video.php?v=wshhToN7aoqT8Nyy9C1Z


  2. This is the paper you should refer to on this subject…ps, I am from SF.


    • I have already had San Francisco Bay View on my blog roster for sometime. I also read it from time to time, but it is not the only source that I rely on. I also had the original tape immediately after the guy was shot, so please, don’t try to school me. Please read all three articles I have written about this case, not just one.


      • If that is the case, then you should know that the people that protested and caused damage were not from the Bay View, they are an anarchist group. You also stated that Kenneth Harding murdered Tanaya, he was never even questioned about that, so how can you say he was guilty (maybe he was). George Gascon has no credibility in the community, and for good reason. And just like any other urban area, the Bay View has a problem with cops acting like overseers…..and please don’t think that we a dumb enough to think Kenneth Harding was an angle, no one is excusing what he did to that 13 year old girl, that is not the point. Just like the Rodney King verdict, this has been building over years of abuse in the neighborhood, that happens to be the last black neighborhood is San Francisco, that is currently being gentrified…..no, I do not believe SFPD. There are cameras on the platform, and local shops, and street corners. If I see proof (not just the audio, they are providing) then I will change.


        • Number one, I named no names about who was protesting that night. It was not clear to me whether they were from Bayview or not. However, it always looks bad when someone claiming to advocate for someone makes trouble in his or her name. It gets tacked on to those groups who are serious about what they are trying to achieve.

          I never said Harding murdered Tanaya, but that he might have murdered Tanaya on a drive-by targeting not just her, but other several people. Additionally, I also noted that the spokesperson for her family, her aunt Rose, did not approve of his shooting death, stating from a Seattle newspaper that there is yet another black family who have to bury a child, and that it was not entirely clear in their eyes whether Harding was the culprit and that we may never know.

          I have read of the lack of faith in Gascon’s credibility, stemming from his tenure as chief of police, and I think that I provided a link as to why, if not then I’ll restore it. Wrong is wrong.

          Sorry, but I have a problem going lock step into anything and with anybody these days. I don’t like the idea of advocating for change using a young man who attempted to pimp a young girl out after he’s made her perform a blow job on him. Period. I do like the idea of figuring things out for myself and out-loud on my blog. At this point, the police have eggs on their faces about how Harding died.

          I know that Bayview is like the last stand of black folks in San Francisco, if not the Bay Area, and I knew that in the late 1990s. I remember when the city fathers destroyed Fillmore, in more than just tearing down the place. So please, as I said before, don’t try and school me.


          • 1. If you don’t name names, you make is sound as if people from the neighborhood were rioting over Kenneth. The meeting that was a disaster, I do wish they would have let the officer speak, did not turn violent or cause any damage.
            2.”Furthermore, the 19-year-old woman Harding killed in Seattle, though, was not pregnant contrary to earlier reports.” from your post.
            3. You can say what you feel, I know I do. Ask questions give your opinion. That’s your right. Kenneth Harding did a lot of bad things in his short lift. We are not advocating for him and excusing his past. You know it’s more than that. He may be a catalyst, just like Rodney King was.
            4. A 13 year old boy was shot 8 times by Chicago police, he is alive thank goodness, similar circumstances, similar story by the department. That is why the community is upset.


      • ps….I was not trying to school you. I was replying based on your frame of references, and that you commented on a protest that had nothing to do with the community……the local media is doing what they do to any young man that is gunned down by the police, they did the same thing to Oscar Grant., and we didn’t see any footage (or hear any audio at all) from the BART platform until the trial was over.


        • In comparison, I did not believe the BART cops regarding Oscar Grant. I still believe that Johannes Mehserle murdered him.


  3. Here’s the first report on the situation I’ve come across that has some serious leg work behind it. Thank you!


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