clearn.png
Saturday July 11th, 2020 12:18AM

'A problem that we need to solve': Harris takes on policing

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — When pressed to take a position on tough issues during the Democratic presidential primary, Kamala Harris often replied with a variation of “we need to have that conversation.” But as the U.S. is roiled by police killings of Black men and women, the California senator is done hedging.

As one of two Black Democrats in the Senate, Harris took a lead role this week in blocking Republican-backed legislation to overhaul policing. In an interview with The Associated Press, Harris said she wouldn't be “played” by GOP leaders seeking to move the bill without input from Democrats and called on Americans to do more to acknowledge racial injustice in policing.

“There is a problem that we need to solve," she said. "And the problem is that we have American lives that have ended at the hands of excessive force and police brutality.”

Seven months after ending her presidential bid, Harris is at another crossroads moment in her political career. She's a leading contender to become presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's running mate at a time when many Americans are reflecting on the country's legacy of systemic racism.

If she's selected, Harris will likely face scrutiny over her tenure as San Francisco's district attorney and, later, as California's attorney general. Some progressives argue that work supported a system that perpetuates injustice against Black people.

But Harris' backers say she's approaching the moment with a clarity that could help ease those concerns.

“Sen. Harris has just been able to truly get an intimate vantage point of the criminal justice system since the beginning of her career," said Deidre DeJear, Harris’ former Iowa campaign chair and Iowa's first Black nominee of a major party for statewide office. “When you have that type of value, you definitely want to embrace it."

Harris wouldn't comment on her vice presidential prospects, saying her top priority is for Biden to pick someone who will help defeat President Donald Trump. Biden is widely believed to be considering several other Black women, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Florida Rep. Val Demings and former Obama administration official Susan Rice.

He's expected to announce his choice around Aug. 1.

A Harris pick would likely revive questions about her political skills. During the primary, she struggled to land on a message and ultimately left the race in December — nearly two months before voting began.

Brian Brokaw, who managed her 2010 campaign for attorney general, said it’s easier for Harris to be herself outside the scrutiny of a presidential campaign. Today’s conversations around systemic racism and policing capture Harris’ “life’s work” in a way the primary did not, he said.

Harris co-sponsored the Justice in Policing Act this month that would ban police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants, set a national use-of-force standard and create a national police misconduct registry, among other things. It would also reform the qualified immunity system that shields officers from liability.

The list includes practices Harris did not vocally fight to reform while leading California's Department of Justice. Although she required DOJ officers to wear body cameras, she did not support legislation mandating it statewide. And while she now wants independent investigations of police shootings, she didn't support a 2015 California bill that would have required her office to take on such cases.

“We made progress, but clearly we are not at the place yet as a country where we need to be and California is no exception," she said. But the national focus on racial injustice now shows “there's no reason that we have to continue to wait."

She's been a staple in recent weeks on cable news programs as well as in online conversations with prominent Black activists.

She's twice joined conversations with the Rev. Ben McBride of Oakland, whom she appointed in 2016 to a new state board overseeing the collection of racial data on police stops. He said that while Harris doesn't have a “perfect record,” she's tried innovative approaches to reform.

“We need people who are going to be in these offices that will be true champions for the causes of the oppressed,” McBride said of Harris' vice presidential prospects. "We've seen her do that in times past. We've seen her miss opportunities to do that."

McBride said he's happy to see Harris aligning herself with young protesters — she's joined protests in Washington and has regularly praised the Black Lives Matter movement. And he acknowledged the unique challenges she faced as a Black woman in her presidential run.

“I have no doubt the impact of the loss of Black life is something she feels very, very deeply," he said. “She's out there speaking her heart and her mind maybe without the restraints of having to play some of the political game."

Zach Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said it would be a risk for Biden to choose anyone with a law enforcement background if he wants to motivate young, progressive voters of color. Those voters, Norris said, are looking for a nominee with a record of pushing for “transformative” change, and while race and gender are important in Biden's selection, they are not essential.

He suggested Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is white, would be a better vice presidential nominee.

“I think the way we have thought about criminal justice reform has been too narrow, and that (Harris) has at times positively invoked the same kind of ethos that has led to mass incarceration as a prosecutor," he said.

But DeJear, Harris' Iowa campaign chairwoman, said the vice presidency could provide an opportunity for Harris to drill down on reforming the criminal justice system. She said the country is now getting a full view of who Harris is in a way they didn't during the primary.

“We are so quick as a country to get to a punch line rather than watch things play out,” DeJear said. “She’s showing America who she is, and she was always going to do that. It was just a matter of when America was ready to listen."

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump wants federal hiring to focus on skills over degrees
A job applicants’ skills could soon take priority over a college degree for federal workers
12:33AM ( 27 minutes ago )
'A problem that we need to solve': Harris takes on policing
Seven months after ending her presidential bid, Kamala Harris is at another crossroads moment in her political career
12:30AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Asia Today: India's cases spike again to near half-million
India has neared half a million coronavirus cases with its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections
12:27AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
India's social inequalities reflected in coronavirus care
While India’s leaders have promised coronavirus testing and care for all who need it, regardless of income, treatment options are as stratified and unequal as the country itself
11:55PM ( 1 hour ago )
Governors who quickly reopened backpedal as virus surges
An alarming resurgence of coronavirus infections across the country has some governors retreating to measures they previously resisted
11:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
Nebraska Democrats struggle with 'dumpster fire' reputation
Democrats in Nebraska are struggling for relevance in their Republican-dominated state, and a series of high-profile embarrassments is only making it harder
11:41PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Colorado reopens inquiry into Elijah McClain's 2019 death
Colorado’s governor ordered prosecutors to reopen the investigation into the death of Elijah McClain, a Black man put into a chokehold by suburban Denver police last year
7:42PM ( 5 hours ago )
US virus cases near an all-time high as governors backtrack
The coronavirus crisis is deepening rapidly in Arizona, and the governor of Texas is beginning to backtrack after making one of the most aggressive pushes in the nation to reopen his state
7:11PM ( 5 hours ago )
Liverpool clinches league title, ends 30-year drought
The 30-year wait is over
7:04PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Pakistan's prime minister says US 'martyred' bin Laden
Pakistan’s prime minister says the United States “martyred” the al-Qaida leader and mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Osama bin Laden
11:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
In Wisconsin, Trump boasts of 'aptitude for manufacturing'
Despite enormous economic headwinds and sky-high unemployment numbers, President Donald Trump sought to showcase his record as a job creator during a visit to a shipyard in the battleground state of Wisconsin
10:29PM ( 2 hours ago )
Ex-UN human rights chief calls for Hong Kong special envoy
The United Nations’ former human rights chief and eight former U.N. special envoys have urged the body’s secretary-general to appoint a special envoy on Hong Kong
9:28PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
House Democrats to approve police overhaul as Senate stalls
Democrats in the House are set to vote Thursday on a far-reaching policing overhaul
6:44PM ( 6 hours ago )
The Latest: Idaho to remain in final stage of reopening plan
Idaho will remain in the fourth and final stage of its plan to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic
6:43PM ( 6 hours ago )
Amid coverage losses, 'Obamacare' enrollments are up
Close to half a million people who lost their health insurance amid the economic shutdown to slow the spread of COVID-19 have gotten coverage through HealthCare
6:43PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Biden, Trump stage rare dueling events in pandemic era
Both President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden are swinging through key battleground states on Thursday
2:50PM ( 10 hours ago )
Campaigning finds a new normal as door-knocking resumes
The coronavirus pandemic isn't going away anytime soon, but political campaigns are forging ahead with in-person organizing
2:43PM ( 10 hours ago )
Trump returns to a changed Wisconsin to shore up support
President Donald Trump’s return to battleground Wisconsin takes him to a shipyard in a deeply conservative, mostly rural area where Navy warships are being built
12:56PM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Elections
Q&A: Harris says Democrats need to listen to young voters
California Sen. Kamala Harris says Democrats “need to listen" to young black and Latino voters demanding change
1:47PM ( 1 day ago )
Icons of 1960s civil rights movement voice cautious optimism
Bob Moses says America is at “a lurching moment” for racial change, potentially as transforming as the Civil War era and the 1960s civil rights movement that he helped lead
11:54AM ( 1 day ago )
Populist Polish president faces tough reelection challenge
Poland's populist President Andrzej Duda is facing a tough challenge as he seeks reelection Sunday despite the devoted support of many Poles in conservative rural regions
7:55AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Democratic super PAC is joining Trump-TV station lawsuit
A federal judge has granted a leading Democratic super PAC’s request to join a court fight between President Donald Trump and a Wisconsin TV station
5:36PM ( 1 day ago )
Kentucky Democrats begin wait for Senate election results
Kentucky's Democratic Senate primary to determine who challenges Republican Mitch McConnell has gone into overtime
5:00PM ( 1 day ago )
Congress stalls on policing overhaul, despite public outcry
Congress is hitting an impasse on policing legislation, despite public outcry for changes after the killings of Black people
6:40PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Trump wants federal hiring to focus on skills over degrees
A job applicants’ skills could soon take priority over a college degree for federal workers
12:33AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Asia Today: India's cases spike again to near half-million
India has neared half a million coronavirus cases with its biggest 24-hour spike of 17,296 new infections
12:27AM ( 34 minutes ago )
Trump zeroes in on base to overcome reelection obstacles
President Donald Trump is sharpening his focus on his ardent base of supporters as polls show a diminished standing for the president in battleground states that will decide the 2020 election
12:24AM ( 37 minutes ago )
House passes sweeping police overhaul after Floyd's death
The House has approved a far-reaching policing overhaul from Democrats
12:14AM ( 48 minutes ago )