Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) has officially joined the campaign to defund the police, appearing in a joint interview with transgender Hollywood star Laverne Cox to promote the idea on live TV on Thursday.
In the interview with “Watch What Happens Live” with host Andy Cohen, Harris said that “For far too long, the status quo thinking has been to believe that to put more police on the street, you’re going to have more safety. And that’s just wrong. That’s not how it works.”
She pointed to different solutions, such as increasing school budgets and expanding access to mental health treatment and resources to address crime in low-income neighborhoods. “We have to reimagine how we achieve public safety,” she explained.
Her record as a prosecutor and Attorney General says otherwise.
Harris made a name for herself in California politics as a zealous “tough on crime” prosecutor for decades. Her big break came when she unseated liberal, soft-on-crime San Fransisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan in 2003 after she “carefully cultivated a base of support among police officers, domestic violence advocates, wealthy donors,” as The Intercept puts it.
She went on to become the state’s Attorney General using the same tactics. When Harris launched her presidential campaign in 2019, she tried to pretend that her well-documented history as an aggressive prosecutor never existed. Lara Bazelon, associate professor at the University of San Francisco School of Law, wrote in a 2019 New York Times op-ed:
Kamala Harris claims to be a champion of criminal justice reform. But as a prosecutor, first as San Francisco’s District Attorney and later as California’s Attorney General, she was anything but.
Time after time, when progressives urged her to embrace criminal justice reforms as a district attorney and then the state’s attorney general, Ms. Harris opposed them or stayed silent. Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that had been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.
When Kamala Harris was climbing the political ladder in the 1990s and 2000s, it was fashionable for Democrats to be tough on crime. Now, as the times have changed, and she’s putting all that behind her as she auditions to be Democrat nominee Joe Biden’s running mate.
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