Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kenneth Harris

OK, here's the thing. You know that the wonderful place I write about here has more than its share of problems. Perhaps you have seen the old program, Homicide: Life on the Streets, you have seen The Wire. You know what a crime ridden, drug infested city this place is and I am committed to sharing only the positive, or mostly the positive, I guess.

Kenneth Harris was a former Baltimore City Councilman. He was a father of two and a committed family man. He was 45 years old. He was born in the Park Heights neighborhood to a young, single mother. He attended local schools, receiving a degree from Morgan State University. He was dedicated to improving Baltimore. By all accounts he was the kind of person who said what he thought, even if it wasn't popular. He was committed to improving life for the residents of the city, but he never let his obligations to the city interfere with his obligations to his family. He went to watch his kids play sports. If there was a choice to be made, he chose his family.

Kenneth was gunned down senselessly, needlessly early Saturday morning. This is the kind of crime that happens all the time here, but there is just something about this one that really gets me. He stopped by the New Haven Lounge at around 1:30 am Saturday morning. The owner, Keith Covington, was a friend of his. Apparently, he was only there for about 15 minutes. The two friends were outside the bar, the owner walking his friend back to his car. They were surprised by three or four armed robbers wearing masks or bandannas. Ken tried to escape to his car. Mr. Covington heard a "pop" but didn't turn his head to see if his friend had been hit because there was a gun to his own head. He was shot once in the chest, through his car window. He managed to drive a short way and crashed his car in a grassy area. He was pronounced dead at Johns Hopkins. Keith Covington was robbed of about $1,200. The robbers escaped through the back door of the club. The owner managed to fire three shots at them from his own gun, but it appears he was not able to hit any of them. He checked out front to see if his friend had managed to get away and was relieved to see his car was gone.

The police have made no arrests. It is thought that the perpetrators are known to the area. It is also suspected that these men have robbed the popular jazz club before, in July.

NJG and I have been to this jazz club many times. It is a good little club in a strip shopping center that clearly has seen better days. The music is really good. We witnessed a charming marriage proposal there over the winter. The patrons and staff are friendly and welcoming. I have never felt unsafe, but then again, I just refuse to feel unsafe in my city. This is my city. This is my city. I won't be scared away. If decent people leave the city or stay shut up in their homes, then the few, and believe me they are few, indecent thugs get to rule, it just can't happen.

I don't know what the answer is. There will be a vigil. There will be a wake. There will be a huge funeral, I am sure. There is outrage. But what happens next? These thugs are staying somewhere and the "don't snitch" mentality that keeps our streets mean is working once again. Whoever is hiding these guys needs to just finally have enough. Ken Harris did nothing to deserve this end. He tried to be part of the solution. He was killed by the very same young men that he tried to help all his life.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry about the death of Kenneth Harris. I do remember him being an outspoken member of the city council. But the question of why this good family man was hanging out at 2 a.m. (looking for a corkscrew? I don't drink wine on a regular but I have a corkscrew at home.) keeps rattling around every time I read an article about his death. And who is this unidentified woman in his car that was cited in the Sun story? Is that why he decided to risk running away because he could not very well go home to tell his wife that he was robbed of ID, credit cards, and money while hanging out with this unidentified woman?

jeff@sally said...

I found you via the black box. So sad about Kenneth Harris. Any death is a tragedy to each family member and friend.


Anonymous said...

What's sad is that his family not only has to deal with the pain of his death but also with the realization that he was probably cheating on them and where he shouldn't be when he was killed. My sympathy goes to the living.