PHILADELPHIA–Domestic terrorism again took a toll on the Black community with the recent shooting death of noted activist Ken Bridges. He was 53-years-old.
Mr. Bridges was the eighth victim of a gunman who has terrorized residents in the District of Columbia and surrounding suburbs in Maryland and Virginia. Mr. Bridges was murdered in a Virginia gas station, while pumping gas on Oct. 11. A state trooper was across the street working a traffic accident site at the time of the cowardly shooting.
Mr. Bridges, from the Germantown section of Philadelphia, was a businessman as well as a social activist. As a graduate of the prestigious Wharton School with an MBA degree, he played a significant part in the initial phases of the direct marketing People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth (POWER) program in 1986, conceived by Minister Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam. Working with Al Wellington and the Wellington Group, Mr. Bridges served as membership vice president.
He had a reputation as an extraordinary salesperson and motivational speaker having reached the upper echelon of the Amway Corporation. Mr. Bridges brought his expertise back to the Black community as a co-founder of the Matah Network. The popular nationwide company seeks to have Black consumers spend money with Black-owned companies.
The Bridges slaying marked the 10th victim shot, eight fatally, in a 10-day period. According to FBI spokesperson Linda Viza, Mr. Bridges had been in the Washington area on a business trip. As he was returning home at 9:30 a.m., a single bullet killed him as he filled his tank at a Fredericksburg, Va. gas station.
“He was shot once in the shoulder. The round hit vital organs and he died,” Ms. Viza said.
Family spokesperson Gary Shepherd, speaking at a hastily arranged news conference in the rain, said the family was “understandably shocked and saddened by this senseless event.” Mr. Bridges leaves behind a wife and six children.
The killer fired from a distance and seemed to pick a random target. Gas stations appear to be a favorite target of the terrorist as three other victims were attacked there earlier. Police said witnesses described two people in a white van leaving the scene in no particular hurry. The van was similar to one witnesses at two earlier shootings had described. Law enforcement officials released a composite picture of the van.
Mr. Bridges was a great advocate of reparations for Black Americans. An article he wrote for the Matah website championed the two forms of reparations as presented at the recent Millions for Reparations rally:
“External-What we receive from the U.S. Government and U.S. and foreign corporations for their part in slavery, which was a crime against humanity.
“Internal-What we give to ourselves, love of self and love of race, leading to significantly more Giving and Buying Black in particular and in general, supporting pro-Black initiatives,” he wrote.