Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’s last-minute decision to withdraw from a forum on criminal justice reform occurring this weekend in South Carolina has earned her the ire of CNN political commentator Van Jones.
In a tweet posted late Friday, Jones tore into the California senator for “running away” like a coward. He posted the tweet in response to fellow candidate Sen. Cory Booker announcing that, unlike Harris, he would be attending the event.
I saw what happened today. And I, for one, will be there tomorrow. I have some things I think they need to hear from me—directly. https://t.co/6Gl7uuTudw
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) October 26, 2019
I will be there, too, @CoryBooker … Running away from a conversation has never solved anything. Some people will abandon a microphone because they don’t like the person who touched it last. Others are smart enough to grab that microphone and make sure THEY get the last word. https://t.co/JbsKY0a5Hf
— Van Jones (@VanJones68) October 26, 2019
When Jones wrote of “abandon[ing] a microphone because they don’t like the person who touched it last,” he meant President Donald Trump.
The president showed up at the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina, to accept an award from the Bipartisan Justice Center forum for his historic efforts in reforming America’s troubled criminal justice system.
Last year the president signed into law the First Step Act, a bill that paved the way for countless non-violent minority offenders to be released from prison and allowed to return home to their families.
Besides receiving a formal award on Friday for these efforts, the president was also honored by those who’ve been helped by the First Step Act, including Tanesha Bannister, a mother of two who was sentenced to life in prison in the early 2000s for selling cocaine.
Thanks to the president’s First Step Act, as well as her own work behind bars — she earned her GED and took over 100 academic classes — she was released decades early on May 1st after serving 16 years of her sentence.
“As the President of the United States says, my name is Tanesha Bannister. I was released, after doing sixteen and a half years, under the FIRST STEP Act. And it was because of that act that I was able to reunite with my family,” she said at the forum Friday.
“I want to thank the President for giving me another lease on life,” she added. “If it wasn’t for you, Mr. President, I’ll still be serving five years in prison.”
“I want to thank the President for giving me another lease on life. If it wasn’t for you, Mr. President, I would still be serving 5 years in prison, and I’ll be forever grateful for that.” -Tanesha Bannister pic.twitter.com/LX49NVVgS6
— GOP (@GOP) October 25, 2019
But if you plug her name into Google or any other search engine, you may notice a conspicuous dearth of reports from mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC, NBC, MSNBC and of course CNN.
It appears Bannister’s story doesn’t concern them. And judging by Harris’s rhetoric, it seems she feels similarly. In a statement Friday, she argued that, despite the president’s criminal justice reform efforts, and despite those who he’s helped, she could not tolerate him receiving an award and would therefore not be participating in the event.
“Donald Trump is a lawless President,” she said. “Not only does he circumvent the laws of our country and the principles of our Constitution, but there is nothing in his career that is about justice, for justice, or in celebration of justice.”
“When it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award…I cannot in good faith be complicit in papering over his record.”
And so because she hates the president so much, she chose to skip the entire event, which by the way extends way beyond Trump’s brief appearance Friday.
“To date there has been no debate, town hall or forum exclusively focused on criminal justice reform that has forced the presidential candidates speak in depth about their proposals for reform,” the Bipartisan Justice Center webpage for the event reads.
“20/20 is uniquely positioned to hold its second forum of this kind as we are the only national Black bipartisan organization that includes law enforcement and activists, judges, prosecutors and public defenders, state and local elected officials, educators and students, formerly incarcerated individuals and other community leaders.”
But again, it appears that to Harris, her Trump Derangement Syndrome outweighed the benefits of attending such an important event. And for reasons that remain unclear, this sentiment is, it would appear, shared by many.
The evidence lies in all the backlash Jones received after he dared to call out the California senator for running away.
What a take. I’m not caping for any candidate, but refusing to lend one’s name & presence to further legitimize events where a despicable person is being honored doesn’t mean one is “running” or not “smart.” There is principle to support both Kamala and Cory’s decisions. https://t.co/TZlLt0anZ3
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) October 26, 2019
This is a pretty crappy take, Van. You may not like why Kamala decided to ✌?abandon the microphone✌?but there was a principle behind it. https://t.co/yYHDmGYxLe
— ?Imani Gandy Corn? (@AngryBlackLady) October 26, 2019
He would’ve hung with Hitler https://t.co/cN2wUhKJry
— Maysoon (@maysoonzayid) October 26, 2019
I swear, the Black men can be worse traitors against Black women than anyone else. https://t.co/Dpnao1dSSS
— Donut Seductress Says He’s Really a Small Dude (@VeeCeeMurphy76) October 26, 2019
So now that @KamalaHarris‘ principled stand resulted in the original hosts of the event being sidelined, are you still going to be there? Cuz it seems clear it’s YOU who ran away from speaking out and KAMALA who grabbed the microphone and got “the last word” here. ?? https://t.co/u0EjSFMiA3
— Old Lady Dem (@oldladydem) October 26, 2019
You sicken me. https://t.co/CdX6fTm8KP
— Uncle Tim Tom Scott’s disgraceful legacy (@lyn_cade) October 26, 2019
This is your chance to be a role model & teach our youth reform does not mean carrying water for white supremacists. No one’s running from anything; refusing to normalize white supremacy isn’t running; it’s standing for something. Something you know nothing about. You are so sad https://t.co/mmpk81wwcV
— #Dear white feminists: I am not the one (@Kamalaallday) October 26, 2019
So according to his haters, he’s a “sellout” and unprincipled jerk for having had the apparent audacity to call out Kamala Harris for not attending the event over her hatred of Trump.
Meanwhile, the president, a man responsible for both the lowest black unemployment rate seen in decades and the release of thousands of incarcerated minorities, is allegedly “Hitler.”
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