Anger erupts over police shootings

by: San Francisco Bay Guardian
27th July 2011

As the murky details of two recent police shootings emerge, a palpable anger surging through targeted communities points to a deeper issue than the particular circumstances surrounding each of these deaths. Simply put, many Bay Area communities are fed up with police violence.

For many activists who descended on transit stations to protest the fatal BART police shooting of Oscar Grant III, the 20-year-old unarmed Hayward man who was killed on New Year’s Day 2009, an upwelling of rage was rekindled after BART cops shot and killed a homeless man named Charles Blair Hill on July 3 in Civic Center Station.

Then, on July 16, San Francisco police officers in the Bayview shot 19-year-old Kenneth Wade Harding Jr. multiple times after he ran from the T-Third train platform because he’d been stopped for fare evasion, leaving him dead on the sidewalk.

The recent officer-involved shootings occurred under two different law enforcement bodies, and both incidents remain under police investigation with many questions still unanswered. BART police say Hill was brandishing a knife; the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) said its response was justified because Harding fired at officers first. The investigation in Harding’s case took a bizarre twist July 21 when SFPD issued a press release based on a medical examiner’s report stating that Harding had died not from rounds fired by police, but a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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