Archive for January 19th, 2012

Picking up the pieces: Kenneth Harding’s mother calls on community to march for justice this Sunday

Surround Candlestick Stadium during NFC championship game; gather at Third & Palou at noon Sunday, Jan. 22, to march to Candlestick

by Denika Chatman

Hi, my name is Denika Chatman and I am the mother of Kenneth Harding Jr. Many of you know that my son was brutally murdered by the San Francisco police on July 16, 2011, over a $2 Muni transit fare. Since the murder of my son, my life has drastically changed. I have left my hometown of Seattle, Washington, and my livelihood and relocated here with my 4-year-old daughter Mi’Neika to stand for righteousness while seeking justice for the murder of my son.

It has been almost six months since my son was killed and there are still unanswered questions. The City and County of San Francisco is not trying to help me find out why the police murdered my son. There were video cameras located on the city property where my son was murdered. The police confiscated them and have not released any evidence that their officers committed a justifiable homicide. There have also been many videos released on YouTube showing in full detail the murder of my son. The city will not help me for being a victim of a violent crime. I haven’t even grieved the loss of my son because I’m out on the front line with my frontrunners forcing the issue of justice.

Kenneth, Ondrell Harding as children with mom Denika Chatman

It has been extremely hard trying to pick up the pieces in my life. My life is no longer about me. Since relocating here, I have become an activist, an active protester and a public speaker. My life purpose now is to prevent any other child from experiencing such a heinous death. I have been active within the Bayview Hunters Point community. I have been going into the high schools, colleges and universities reaching out to the youth and building awareness that this is happening and trying to create prevention so that no other parent has to experience this. I have spoken out against police brutality at several events including the 44th annual Black Panther Party reunion.

Since relocating here, I have become an activist, an active protester and a public speaker. My life purpose now is to prevent any other child from experiencing such a heinous death.

It was extremely hard getting through the holidays without my son. I don’t have a mother, father or grandmother; everyone has passed away. All I have is my kids and grandkids, who are still in Seattle except for my baby. The community has supported me and adopted me; however, I also needed help from different organizations and agencies and was turned away. Why won’t they help me? Everyone who came out in the beginning while the cameras were rolling offering their help and support disappeared when the cameras shut off. The community, however, remained on the front line in solidarity with me.

Kenneth Harding Jr.

We have started the Kenneth Harding Jr. Foundation and we need donations. I need transportation to remain in my son’s movement. I have to travel back and forth to the city and I need help. It’s cold and I have a baby and it makes it difficult to get around. The foundation also needs startup money so that we can obtain the materials that we need to be effective to the youth of the community. I’m personally seeking financial help to help me within this new life. We need T-shirts, venues and a vehicle donated to help us with this movement.

I would like you to know that this fight for justice is not just about what happened to my son. This is about standing up and fighting back against police brutality and other injustices committed by the police and the 1 percent alike. Many people, such as DeBray Carpenter (aka Fly Benzo), Pladee Clayton and Kilo Perry have had their rights violated, have been assaulted and incarcerated for openly speaking out against the police and the murder of my son. Witnesses have been pulled over and threatened by the police that their parole or probation will be violated if they say anything. Kilo Perry went to jail for being in the community collecting witnesses. DeBray and Pladee are fighting bogus charges in court for attending a press conference and openly speaking out about what they witnessed the police do to my child.

This fight for justice is not just about what happened to my son. Many people, such as DeBray Carpenter (aka Fly Benzo), Pladee Clayton and Kilo Perry have had their rights violated, have been assaulted and incarcerated for openly speaking out against the police and the murder of my son.

We have to fight back, but it takes more than me; it takes a community. These brothers need help so that they don’t face any more jail time for standing up for what’s right. We need to continue to support them. DeBray needs donations to help pay off his bail. I need you to continue to support me and this movement. The power is in the people, not in politics; the power is in numbers.

Activists Fly Benzo (DeBray Carpenter) and Kilo Perry have stayed the course after pledging here, following the big press conference last July 18, two days after the police murder of Kenneth Harding, to fight for justice. – Photo: Malaika Kambon

We are the majority; we can’t let history repeat itself. We have to move forward, and that starts with us standing as one for a righteous change. We need to teach one another; what if it was your child? Many have come before me and it’s time for the killing, brutality, terrorizing and occupation of our communities by the police to stop.

What if it was your child? Many have come before me and it’s time for the killing, brutality, terrorizing and occupation of our communities by the police to stop.

I would like to thank Minister Christopher and the Nation of Islam for the continued support spiritually, financially and mentally. I would like to thank Rev. Brown and the NAACP for their contribution and getting me through the midnight hour. I also would like to thank Bishop Lee for allowing me to call upon him every time I needed to leave my burdens at the altar. Mr. Willie Ratcliff and Mary, you guys are great and I really appreciate you. JR, the minister of information, I need you to know that we ride together. You all should know that when my son was killed, JR travelled to Seattle to make sure me and my children were all right. He also brought Malcolm X’ grandson with him, and that’s a life experience I will always be grateful for.

Since they murdered Kenneth Harding Jr. on July 16, 2011, SFPD has intensified its repression and terrorism in Bayview Hunters Point, repeatedly brutalizing anyone who speaks out for justice, especially Fly Benzo, a leader of the resistance and a hero to the community. Following this police assault in November – in broad daylight in front of many witnesses in Mendell Plaza near where Kenneth bled to death – he was arrested and still faces four years in prison for the ridiculous charge of assaulting the police.

To my surviving children and grandchildren, I love you dearly and always. To the family of Oscar Grant, I will never be able to thank you enough for helping me get through the hurt and pain and for being here for me and my family. To my board members, we all ride together and thank you for still being on the front line and not allowing me to go through this alone. Larry Felson, I want to thank you for being a true blessing in my life. To everyone who supports this movement, all my new family, and all the organizations that I stand in solidarity with, I appreciate you and want to personally thank you.

If you would like to submit a donation, you can contact me personally at (323) 519-4177; you can also email me at If you would like to be a part of this movement or see everything that we have accomplished, you can log on to Justice 4 Kenneth Wade Harding Jr. on Facebook. For those who don’t know what happened, you can watch the video yourself (see Why should you die for a transfer?) and make your own informed opinion. Kenneth Harding Jr. will live forever in us.

Dear Denika, the Bay View salutes your courage, your dignity and your diligence and persistence and stands ready to help you win justice for your son. As you so eloquently say, “It’s time for the killing, brutality, terrorizing and occupation of our communities by the police to stop.”



Since relocating here, I have become an activist, an active protester and a public speaker. My life purpose now is to prevent any other child from experiencing such a heinous death.

You may also like –

Free Fly Benzo! Criminalizing critique, cameras and community in Bayview Hunters Point

Kenneth Harding police murder aftermath: Victory for Kilo G

San Francisco police claim Black youth shot himself … say what!



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Scalia and Thomas: Who Cares If Your Lawyer Abandons You on Death Row?

After Cory Maples was convicted of two murders in Alabama in 1997 and sentenced to death, he appealed his conviction claiming that he’d received shoddy legal representation, what’s technically known as ineffective assistance of counsel. Two attorneys from Sullivan & Cromwell, a prestigious law firm in New York, agreed to represent him.

Alabama doesn’t provide inmates with post-conviction legal assistance. By securing free representation from two attorneys from a hotshot New York law firm, Maples must have thought he had a decent chance in court. A dream come true, right?

Didn’t turn out that way. The two attorneys, Jaasai Munanka and Clara Ingen-Housz, left the firm in 2002, in the middle of Maples’ appeal process. They didn’t tell Maples that they were leaving, or that they weren’t going to be involved in his case anymore. They didn’t even tell the court in Alabama. So when the court denied Maples’ appeal in 2003, he had no idea. Maples’ Alabama-based attorney (the state requires a state-licensed attorney to be on the appeal team) did receive the court’s notification that Maples’ appeal had been rejected, but he did nothing about it. (He’d previously told Maple’s New York-based lawyers that he’d be involved in the case only as much as the law required him to be.) By the time other attorneys at Sullivan & Cromwell decided to pick up the case, the 42-day deadline for appealing the court’s rejection had already passed. Maples had essentially been left high and dry by his lawyers, two of whom had bailed without bothering to inform the court, and one of whom had effectively washed his hands of the case from the beginning. As far as Maples knew, he had lawyers. He didn’t.

The lower courts rejected Maples’ pleas for another chance to file an appeal, despite the conduct of his attorneys. But on Wednesday, the Supreme Court reversed that decision by a vote of 7 to 2, with Justice Antonin Scalia writing a dissent joined by Clarence Thomas. Their argument? If you allow Maples to file an appeal despite missing the original deadline because he was abandoned by his attorneys, then defense attorneys all over the country could argue that their clients had been effectively unrepresented at one point or another, gambling on the possibility that the big-hearted, black-robed softies on the Supreme Court would overlook any procedural errors that might have been made during their appeals.

Under the law, merely having a crappy lawyer who misses deadlines isn’t normally enough to get a second chance. This makes sense. It prevents people from trying to take advantage of the system through deliberate incompetence. The difference here is that Maples didn’t have a crappy lawyer. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out in her majority opinion, he essentially didn’t have a lawyer at all. 

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You might be wondering how exactly Scalia and Thomas could be so indifferent to someone who gets so royally shafted by his attorneys. Despite today’s 7 to 2 ruling, this court has rarely been sympathetic to defendants when it comes to procedural matters and criminal justice. This goes double for Scalia and Thomas. This is, after all, a court that overturned a financial reward for a man who spent years in prison for crimes he didn’t commit and found that the Fourth Amendment right to unreasonable searches and seizures doesn’t exist if the faint smell of marijuana smoke tickles a cop’s nostrils while he happens to be standing near your apartment. Four of the justices think there’s nothing cruel and unusual about California stacking its prisoners like boxes in an Amazon warehouse. We haven’t even gotten to Scalia harrumphing that it’s irrelevant whether Troy Davis was “actually innocent.” 

Alabama is in a different league when it comes to the death penalty, executing inmates at a rate six times higher than Texas, which has about five times as many people. Juries need not be unanimous in death penalty cases. Judges are allowed to override jury verdicts and impose the death penalty if they feel like it. Alabama judges have been known to brag about their body counts during their reelection campaigns. They have strong political incentives to execute people, and as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes in her majority opinion, the state has made it particularly easy by lowering legal standards for public defenders and capping state reimbursements for legal expenses for those attorneys who do choose to represent their clients in post-conviction proceedings. This all reflects a particular worldview: The possibility that the convicted are actually innocent is so slim that taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for whatever legal shenanigans they might try.

That worldview permeates Alito’s concurring opinion. Despite agreeing with the majority that Maples got a raw deal, Alito takes a few pages to deny that there’s anything wrong with the way Alabama handles the death penalty, calling the Maples case “a veritable perfect storm of misfortune” not indicative of any larger issues. Not only that, but Alito says there’s no problem with forcing inmates sentenced to death to rely on the kindness of strangers. Alito notes that Sullivan & Cromwell “is one of the country’s most prestigious and expensive” firms, and adds that “I have little doubt that the vast majority of criminal defendants would think that they had won the lottery” if they were to be represented by the firm’s attorneys.

Except for Maples it turned out to be a nightmare.

Still, Scalia’s dissent has to rank up there with his greatest hits. He writes coldly that “the client bears the risk of all attorney errors made in the course of the representation, regardless of the egregiousness of the mistake.” That’s even if the “mistake” is a lawyer not bothering to tell someone facing possible execution that they’re not representing them anymore. What’s the big deal? It’s not like anyone’s life is at stake.

When Will We See Our First Trillionaire

In recent years, even at a time of global recession, the world’s wealthiest people have been getting wealthier and wealthier. In fact, the wealthiest 5 percent of American households received 81.7 percent of the total wealth gain in America between 1983 and 2009, according to a study from the Economic Policy Institute.

The wealthiest person in the world, according to Forbes, is Mexican businessman Carlos Slim with a total fortune of $74 billion. Number two and number three on the list of world’s wealthiest people are Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, with $56 billion and $50 billion respectively.

With billionaires continuing to see their wealth appreciate at a rapid pace, the question has been asked: “When will we see the world’s first trillionaire?”

A trillion dollars is a big number – here it is with all the zeroes included:


For comparison’s sake, the entire size of the U.S. economy was approximately $14.7 trillion as of 2010 and the entire U.S. federal budget is approximately $3.7 trillion.

There are several factors that affect how rapidly someone’s wealth can grow: tax laws, the overall growth of the economy and inflation.

Using Bill Gates as an example, starting from today with a net worth of $56 billion, if Bill Gates’ wealth were to continue to grow by 3 percent per year, he would achieve trillionaire status in 98 years. Of course, Bill Gates is already 56 years old, so he’s probably not going to be around at the age of 154. (No offense to Mr. Gates, and I don’t mean to sound morbid; it’s just a fact. Although if anyone could figure out how to live to 154, it would probably be Bill Gates.)

So let’s consider a younger billionaire. How about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who is currently 27 years old?

If Mark Zuckerberg were to cash in on his Facebook stock (currently valued at approximately $8 billion) and invest it aggressively, and achieved an amazing 20 percent return on investment, he would become a trillionaire within 50 years. Not a bad 77 th birthday present!

Even though today’s group of billionaires are gaining wealth at a rapid pace, they’re still nowhere near that trillion dollar mark. There have been other wealthy figures in past eras who were closer to becoming trillionaires than Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are today – for example, John D. Rockefeller was the wealthiest American in history (and often estimated to be the wealthiest person who has ever lived). Rockefeller died in 1937 at the age of 97, with a net worth of $663 billion (in present-day dollars, adjusted for inflation – although the actual nominal value of his fortune was “only” $1.4 billion in 1937).

If John D. Rockefeller had lived for another 14 years, with an annual net worth gain of 3 percent, he would have reached “trillionaire” status (in 2011 dollars).

Despite America’s fascination with wealth and our pride as a home to innovators and inventors and entrepreneurs, the world’s first trillionaire is probably not going to be an American. For starters, the world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, is Mexican. The world’s wealthiest family is the Al Nahyan family of Abu Dhabi (worth $150 billion). Some of the fastest growing economies (and fastest growing fortunes) in the world are in the emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The world’s first trillionaire is more likely to be a commodities trader from Nigeria or an oil tycoon from Russia than an American tech entrepreneur.

It’s interesting to reflect on the very remoteness of the concept of a “trillionaire” – the numbers become so big as to be mind-boggling. And it’s comforting, in a way, to know that no matter how much money someone earns, they will still be far away from that elusive trillion-dollar goal. It looks like we’ll be describing our wealthiest people as “billionaires” for some time to come.

‘Impressed’ and ‘Delighted’ Warren Buffett Matches GOP Rep’s Deficit Donations

Warren Buffett will be writing a check made out to the United States Treasury for just over $49,000 to help pay down the national debt.

He’s matching voluntary contributions made this year and last year by Rep. Scott Rigell, a Republican representing Virginia.

In a letter to Rep. Rigell released today by Berkshire Hathaway, Buffett writes he’s “particularly impressed that you took this action before my challenge.”

[ See also: Why Mitt Romney’s Tax Rate Matters  ]

In his challenge, issued in a Time Magazine interview last week, Buffett promises to match voluntary contributions aimed at reducing the deficit by “all Republican members of Congress, and I’ll even go three for one with (Senate Minority Leader Mitch) McConnell.”

McConnell, and other critics of Buffett’s call for higher tax rates on the super-rich, have been suggesting that if Buffett thinks he’s not taxed enough then he should “send in a check” to the Treasury.

In his letter to Buffett, also released by Berkshire, Rep. Rigell writes, that he “appreciates” and “gladly accepts” Buffett’s “generous offer.”

Rigell says he makes it a practice to donate 15 percent of his Congressional salary “to pay down the debt.” That amounted to $23,103.33 in 2011 and about $26,100 in 2012.

[ See also: When Will We See the World’s First Trillionaire? ]

Rigell adds, “Though we differ on tax policy, as fellow Americans and businessmen I know that we share this common bond: a deep concern over the state and trajectory of our country’s finances.”

Buffett writes back that he hopes Rigell’s action “spurs an intramural rivalry between Republicans and Democrats .. a form of competition between the two parties that the American people would applaud” as a “small step” toward “better cooperation between the two parties.”

Buffett will wait until April 20 to write his check to see if anyone else accepts his challenge.

Buffett also invites Rigell to come for a visit if he’s “ever traveling near Omaha.”

As for Rigell’s offer to provide “documentation” of his contributions, Buffett tells him, “Your word is good with me.”

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