Joseph Kitchen, the president of the Young Democrats of Maryland, has been found dead after being reported missing for several days.
A cause of death was not yet released. “Mr. Kitchen has been located deceased in Washington, DC. The Metropolitan Police Department is leading the investigation into his death. The Prince George’s County Police Department offers our condolences to Mr. Kitchen’s family and friends,” Prince George’s County police wrote in a statement. Police have not given additional details about the circumstances of his death.
The news about Kitchen’s death came eight days after he was last seen. The day after that, he posted a message on Facebook that promised to come for another group. In other posts, he called out specific employees by name. He also shared posts about anxieties and stress he was under, listing COVID-19, the Trump administration, and the death of John Lewis as culprits.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Kitchen Was Last Seen in a Local Park
For several days, Kitchen was a missing person. “The Prince George’s County Police Department is seeking the public’s help in finding a missing man. He is identified as 34 -year-old Joseph Kitchen. He was last seen at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis on August 8, 2020,” police wrote in a news release.
Before he was found, they described Kitchen as “a black male, 5’2” tall and 200 pounds. He has a medium brown complexion, black hair and brown eyes. He owns a silver 2014 Dodge Charger bearing VA tag VTU150.”
Police wrote, “Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Regional Investigation Division – Central Region at (301) 772-4911.”
Maryland State Delegate Wanika Fisher wrote, “My good friend and brother @josephlkitchen has passed away. Joseph’s energy and voice are unforgettable. I will continue to be the woman, friend and public servant he bet on. I love him and I miss him with all my heart. I know we will meet again someday. 🙏🏽”
2. Kitchen Called Out Another Group on Facebook
On August 9, Kitchen’s Facebook page posted the following: “Whew tomorrow the way I’m coming for Young Democrats of America. LETS BE CLEAR, it is not trauma informed that you silence an entire discussion on sexual trauma because you individually cannot tell with the story. That’s ignoring the solutions necessary and young liberals doing it are not the future of our party. THEY ARE TRASH.”
Rachel Gonzalez wrote on Twitter, “The last I heard from Joseph was a week ago on our Young Democrats of America call where he stood up for me talking about my recent experience and the need to push predators out of the party. Joseph, thank you.”
The last I heard from Joseph was a week ago on our Young Democrats of America call where he stood up for me talking about my recent experience and the need to push predators out of the party. Joseph, thank you.
— Rachel R. Gonzalez (@RachelRGonzalez) August 16, 2020
The Young Democrats of America posted a tribute to Kitchen that didn’t mention the dispute. It read:
The Young Democrats of America are saddened to learn of the tragic and untimely passing of Joseph Kitchen, President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. Joseph was a fixture within YDA for over a decade and was well known for his veracious style and fierce advocacy for continued transparency within the organization. Joseph always pushed for YDA to live up to its progressive values and was someone who was not satisfied with accepting the status quo. His presence, energy, and passion will be deeply missed.
We express our deepest condolences and sympathies to his family, friends, colleagues, students, and the extended Young Democrats of Maryland community.
Kitchen’s other recent posts dealt with a variety of issues. “I am a fan of Ellen,” he wrote on August 5. “However I’m disgusted by this digital campaign. It shows a lack of accountability, remorse, and frankly human behavior for victims. Dear Black Men participants. STOP.” On August 4, he wrote of a California congresswoman who was then mentioned as a possible Joe Biden vice presidential pick, “Since no one else will say it, I will. The attacks on Karen Bass are racist. Period.” That same day, he wrote, “Yesterday Governor Larry Hogan sent a misleading letter to the Board of Elections. This letter, combined with his other actions, has caused serious confusion to Marylanders.”
On July 30, he wrote of conservative Herman Cain, “When 100,000 mostly innocent people died from COVID19 from just doing their best to survive Herman Cain said went on TV to call their deaths a hoax. To say their doctors lied. He then knowingly went to a hate rally, without a mask, and got sick before dying himself. Stop trying to guilt us into feeling sorry for a man who knowingly did what he wanted to do.”
3. The Maryland Democratic Party Remembered Kitchen’s Kind Heart That ‘Impacted So Many’
With a heavy heart, we are sad to say that Joseph Kitchen has passed.
Joseph Kitchen was the President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. A kind heart that has impacted so many.
Rest in peace, Joseph Kitchen. pic.twitter.com/VapF0cH4SJ
— Maryland Democratic Party (@mddems) August 16, 2020
The Maryland Democratic Party also confirmed that Kitchen had died. “With a heavy heart, we are sad to say that Joseph Kitchen has passed,” the Party wrote in a tweet.
“Joseph Kitchen was the President of the Young Democrats of Maryland. A kind heart that has impacted so many. Rest in peace, Joseph Kitchen.”
He sometimes directed criticism at the party, writing in late July, “FYI – The DNC announced the convention officers today. Of the top 9 officers, the youngest one is 50 years old. 50! The leaders of the High School Democrats of America, the College Democrats of America, and the Young Democrats of America have zero representation in the leadership.”
4. Kitchen Expressed Anxiety Over Everything From COVID-19 to Trump
In July, Kitchen wrote a lengthy message on Facebook expressing the pain he was in for a variety of reasons. The message reads,
A few weeks ago I started missing every morning meeting I had. Not on purpose but I would wake up (I am an early riser) and find myself so sick I could not get out of bed. I am a person who copes with things so my rational of course, just stop scheduling morning meetings. That was cool until last Thursday and more Friday of last week I literally could not get out of bed at all.
I don’t have COVID19 and so that isn’t a worry but I realized that my body was telling me to stop.
I am a school leader. The anxiety that comes with missing my students but also realizing it is not safe to bring them to campus is a lot to deal with. I miss my babies (even the bad ones) a lot. They are the people who give me energy each and every day.
Many of y’all will remember my partner was diagnosed with COVID19 early on. He is doing awesome but recently we decided to be friends after 6 years together.
The daily news of how incompetent the Trump administration is combined with their daily threat to our lives is overwhelming. I won’t even attempt to try to explain how hurtful it is to fight your own people and horrible stereotypes we have about our own babies in an effort to remove armed police from schools.
The Death of John Lewis
I have to say I think what really did it for me was the death of Rep. John Lewis. If you read and study his life it is impossible to find a more God-fearing man rooted in service and committed to the future of this country. Rep. Lewis physically put his body on the line every day to protect God’s children. For decades. To see this type of man die by cancer really makes you question God’s plan for the world. Death by cancer is painful. It took me back to my own grandmother’s death. She also died of cancer. Unable to speak or move, or even recognize her family after spending her entire life as a solider for God made me angry. It makes you question if God truly loves his people. If so what is the meaning for such unnecessary pain?
God has never promised his people things will be easy. In fact, the Bible is full of stories that detail the struggles of Christians in the service to God. That does not make it any easier to process or understand.
Today I am admitting I have not been handling this well.
Rep. Jamie Raskin wrote in a Twitter statement, “I am terribly sad to learn of the loss of Joseph Kitchen, President of the Maryland Young Democrats. This is a brutal time we inhabit and the loss of this wonderful young man will be another dreadful milestone in our age of bitter hardship.”
5. Kitchen Called Himself a ‘Young Black Man, Fighting Every Day to Change the World’
Kitchen’s Facebook profile reads, “I’m a young #black man, fighting everyday to change the world. #ImStillHere.”
It says that, in addition to being president of the Young Democrats of Maryland, he worked at Young Black Educators and was a former Prince George’s County advisory council member. He also worked at City Year.
The page says he was from Fresno, California, and lived in Fairmount Heights, Maryland. At one point, he indicated he was voting for Bernie Sanders.