Bayview protest might disrupt Muni service

S.F. Examiner File PhotoPublic anger: The death of Kenneth Harding

Various groups are planning to shut down Muni service Monday, but the agency said it is aware of the looming protest and will make the necessary adjustments to avoid disruptions for riders.

Several reasons — including an attack on organized labor, policies of racial discrimination by city agencies such as the Police Department and Muni, and the one-year anniversary of the death of Kenneth Harding — have all been cited as the reasons for the planned transit shutdown, according to notices circulated online.

Event organizers have targeted the intersection of Third Street and Palou Avenue in the Bayview district as the gathering point for the protest, which calls for all Muni lines to be shut down. The T-Third Street light-rail line and the 54-Felton, 44-O’Shaughnessy, 24-Divisadero and 23-Monterey bus lines all pass through the intersection.

Collectively, those lines carry nearly 70,000 passengers each day.

No time has been specified for the planned protest, and attempts to reach event backers were unsuccessful Thursday.

Initially, it was believed that Harding was shot and killed on July 16, 2011, by San Francisco police officers who were chasing the 19-year-old man after he fled a fare-evasion checkpoint on Muni. A medical examiner’s report indicated that the fatal bullet came from a weapon Harding had on him, although that account has been disputed by members of the Bayview community, where the incident occurred. Harding was a convicted pimp, and at the time of his death, he was a person of interest in the shooting death of a pregnant woman in Seattle.

The protest’s backers, who posted a notice to the website of a coalition group called Humanists For Revolutionary Socialism, claimed Muni policies were ultimately the cause of Harding’s death.

“Kenneth was killed by the S.F. police to protect Muni bosses’ ‘savings’ on the backs of the workers,” the notice said. “This greed takes the form of attacks on the Muni workers and compromising safety which endangers Muni riders as well as the union drivers.”

Kristen Holland, a Muni spokeswoman, said the agency is aware of the planned protest, and is taking the necessary steps to ensure that service runs as smoothly as possible. She did not discuss specifics of the agency’s strategies, saying that those details could aid the protestors.

Although the flier circulating online contained plenty of references to Muni’s transit operators, the union that represents those workers has nothing to do with the action planned for Monday, said its spokesman, Ron Austin.

“Our No. 1 priority is to provide safe and reliable transportation for the residents of San Francisco and its visitors,” said Austin, a member of the Transport Workers Union Local 250-A. “So when the sun rises on Monday, we’ll be out there working.”