Oct 24, 2005
Lashaun Harris, a 23-year-old mother from Oakland, has apparently thrown her three young children, between the ages of one and six, to their deaths into San Francisco Bay.
Relatives and other people who knew Harris all agree that she was a loving and protective mother. But she was struggling to raise her children alone after her separation from the children’s father, who was abusive. Harris was a nurse’s aid but she hadn’t been able to work lately, probably because of mental illness. With her children, she was staying at a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Oakland. With no one to monitor her there, she had stopped taking medication for schizophrenia.
Media reports either present Harris as a cold-blooded killer or someone with mental illness, painting a picture of a tragedy that was unavoidable.
That’s nothing but hypocrisy! Harris was aware of her mental illness and looking for help. According to her uncle, Avery Garrett, Harris recently tried to be admitted to a mental health facility, but she was rejected. She didn’t have health insurance. And, of course, California, like states across the country, has effectively closed down most state mental health facilities.
Whatever the exact reasons were in this case, what’s certain is that such services are becoming less and less available for working-class and poor people. Federal, state and local governments are cutting social services right and left as more people need them, and as the government funnels more and more money to the corporations and rich.
Harris may have been a desperate mother who, in a fit of madness, killed her own children. But she was a mother who “had been crying out for help,” according to her uncle. This capitalist society was deaf to her pleas. These three young children, along with their mother, are among its unnumbered victims.