Kenneth Harding was a black man, just 19 years old, who was killed in San Francisco while fleeing the police. Officers shot Harding as many as 10 times. A video shows at least four officers standing some distance away from Harding with guns pointed at him, as they watch him writing on the ground, bleeding to death, rather than trying to save his life.
Police now claim Harding shot himself as he fled (yet they have been unable to produce the gun they say he fired). But activists and Harding's mother find this new story hard to swallow. As her attorney has said, “We know, based upon the Police Department’s shifting stories, conflicting statements, allegations and claims, and retractions, that the truth seems to be far from at hand.”
If no gun turns up, it won't be the first time U.S. cops have shot unarmed people of color to death. Just a week prior to this, Oscar Grant's killer, officer Johannes Mehserle, was released from prison after spending just a year in jail. Grant was outrageously shot and killed in an Oakland train station as he lay facedown on the ground with his hands behind his back. Mehserle's release prompted 250 to protest at the train station where Mehserle killed Grant. As one Oakland resident put it to Socialist Worker, "Michael Vick was sentenced for four years for killing a dog. But a police officer murders a human being, and he serves less than a year," highlighting the racism that is fundamental to the operation of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Come discuss the role of the police in a capitalist society, why there is a different set of rules for them than there is for the rest of us, and what we can do to challenge it.