Kamala Harris shows up to criminal justice forum after pledging to boycott; gives whopper of a reason

Screen capture … Sen. Kamala Harris … Credit: MSNBC

After taking considerable heat from multiple directions, 2020 candidate Sen. Kamala Harris reversed course and showed up at a criminal justice forum on Saturday after previously announcing she would boycott the event because a sponsor gave President Trump an award.

Harris claimed her decision to backtrack and attend the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum in South Carolina’s Benedict College came after she learned the sponsor was “removed” from the forum.

That claim was puzzling since the sponsor, The 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, remained on-site and was tweeting about the forum throughout the day. The Washington Post also contradicted Harris’s pretense, saying, “it wasn’t clear in what ways the sponsor was no longer affiliated with the event, because the group maintained a presence there throughout the day.”

On Friday, The 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center presented an award to the president for his involvement in passing the First Step Act, which, among other things, allows inmates who are serving time for selling crack cocaine to ask a judge to reduce their prison sentences. The bill’s intent is to help in the fight for racial justice, as a majority of those incarcerated for crack cocaine offenses are black men.

Watch the award presentation here:

Video by CBS 17

Harris made public her forum withdrawal in a self-righteous hissy fit, saying: “As the only candidate who attended a (historically black college), I know the importance that these spaces hold for young Black Americans.

“Today, when it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award after decades of celebrating mass incarceration, pushing the death penalty for innocent Black Americans, rolling back police accountability measures and racist behavior that puts people’s lives at risk … I cannot in good faith be complicit in papering over his record.”

Saturday, President Trump returned fire, criticizing the Senator for her tantrum, tweeting: “Badly failing presidential candidate @KamalaHarris will not go to a very wonderful largely African American event today because yesterday I received a major award, at the same event, for being able to produce & sign into law major Criminal Justice Reform legislation, which will greatly help the African American community (and all other communities), and which was unable to get done in past administrations despite a tremendous desire for it. This and best unemployment numbers EVER is more than Kamala will EVER be able to do for African Americans!”

Harris, in turn, replied: “My whole life I’ve fought for justice and for the people — something you’d know nothing about. The only part of criminal justice you can claim credit for is the ‘criminal’ part.”

Unfortunately for Harris, her own record as a former California Attorney General has attracted a great deal of criticism for her “tough on crime” stance, for which she has been accused of unfairly targeting African-Americans. The Los Angeles Times reports that blacks in prison in California remain more than five times their share of the state’s population.

Once on stage at the forum on Saturday, Harris tried to defend her initial cowardly decision to pull out of the event. “Let me just be clear so you can hear it from me,” she said. “I refused to come because frankly Benedict College students were excluded and also I said I wouldn’t come because I couldn’t believe that Donald Trump would be given an award as it relates to criminal justice reform. This is someone who’s disrespected the voices who have fought for justice and sacrificed to create leadership around justice in this system.

“Someone who dares, dares, use the word ‘lynching’ on the soil of South Carolina where blood has been spilled, he dares to compare himself to the people who have been on the wrong side of the system. That is inappropriate.”

Harris’s forum-attendance flip-flop and the online spat with Trump over what was clearly a well-deserved bi-partisan recognition for the Trump administration shows a campaign that remains in big trouble. If she thought her boycott was going to serve to improve her polling numbers, she sorely miscalculated.

It sure didn’t help her to claim that the sponsor was removed, clearing the way for her appearance since evidence to the contrary was there for everyone to see …


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