Disclaimer: This review of Kamala Harris was quite difficult for me because I tend to scrutinize local, state, and federal law enforcement and state and federal criminal justice systems with an eagle eye. Due to the lack of oversight, a history of self-policing, and a strong bias against people of color, and the fact the system is so flawed it allows innocent men and women to remain locked up for decades despite sufficient evidence illustrating such, it’s very hard to give a great review to a prosecutor hailing from California, the land of police misconduct and federal oversight.
I don’t care that she’s a woman. She’s a Woman of Color (she was born to a Tamil Indian mother and a Jamaican father) who chose a career field that has historically been a problem for and with People of Color. My review is of her professional background and Congressional record, which is full of conflicts. Please click on the links in the essay to learn more about items expressed in this review.
My General Analysis of Senator Kamala Harris
On Senator Harris’ Congressional Record/Background: Senator Harris has a long, robust record of introducing Senate Bills and Resolutions that helps all Americans. Some of her Civil Rights legislation introduced includes the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which extends prohibitions against housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, handicap, familial status, or national origin to include discrimination based on: (1) an individual’s association with another person who is a member of such a protected class; and (2) a perception or belief, even if inaccurate, that an individual is a member of such a protected class.
The Do No Harm Act (introduced in 2018), would have made the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) inapplicable to federal laws (or implementations of laws) that: protect against discrimination or the promotion of equal opportunity, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, Executive Order 11246 (concerning equal employment opportunity), the Violence Against Women Act, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) rules entitled “Equal Access to Housing in HUD Programs Regardless of Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity”; require employers to provide wages, other compensation, or benefits, including leave; protect collective activity in the workplace; protect against child labor, abuse, or exploitation; or provide for access to, information about, referrals for, provision of, or coverage for, any health care item or service. This bill did not pass.
Another bill Senator Harris co-sponsored was the Equality Act, which would have amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation in places of public accommodation. Sadly, the bill did not pass.
Please keep in mind a bill being introduced does not mean the bill passed. Introducing a bill or resolution is an effort by a Congressional Senator or Representative is a formal attempt to solve/fund a problem. It’s more than lip service.
Senator Harris’ short time in the Senate is a problem because she really hasn’t accomplished much that would counteract some of the not so good stances and activities conducted during her time as a prosecutor, District Attorney and as U.S. Attorney for the State of California. Her career as a Senator consists of great television spots and gotcha moments during the Barr and Kavanaugh hearings. She knows how to interrogate and that’s nice for us, but she hasn’t been able to do much more than that.
Another problem is that because some of the bills were created close the end of 2018(hint, hint: Planning a run for the White House…push lots of bills for my record for the Library of Congress to archive), a synopsis for many of the bills was not available. I’m sure the shutdown doesn’t help.
Other Bills Senator Harris has either sponsored or co-sponsored include Medicare for All, Patsy T. Mink and Louise M. Slaughter Gender Equity in Education Act of 2018, Access to Birth Control Act, Choice Act, the Pet and Women Safety Act, the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act of 2017, the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2018, the DHS (Homeland Security) Body-Worn Camera Act of 2018, and the Dream Act of 2017. These bills did not pass either, they simply were introduced.
In my opinion, the Senator really hasn’t been in Congress enough time to make a real impact. A few good television spots interrogating nominees is nice to show off her prosecutor skills, but it doesn’t really help us decide what kind of negotiating skills she offers or if she can get anything done. The other thing that bugs me about her record is that she seemed to be like Elizabeth Warren, she rushed a lot of bills through to make it appear as though she was in support of a lot of cause/issues, when it’s highly likely she did so because she knew in her heart her main objective was to run for President.
She’s a career politician and elected official. Prosecutors are elected, and she’s held several local/regional and state-wide elected offices. She knows how to play the game, punch the right tickets, and say what we want to hear.
To check out her Congressional Record for yourself, please visit the Library of Congress:
On Senator Harris’ Criminal Justice Record/Background: Senator Harris served as the Deputy District Attorney in Alameda County, California from 1990–1998, indicating she wanted to be in law enforcement to have a seat at the table where decisions are made. 2000, San Francisco’s elected City Attorney, recruited Harris for the position of chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division, which oversaw civil code enforcement matters. In 2003, Kamala Harris became the District Attorney (DA) for the City and County of San Francisco.
During her time as San Francisco DA, she caught a lot of flack and opposition from the law enforcement community, government, and others for her decision not to give a cop killer the death penalty citing the costs to keep a person incarcerated for life was less than it was to place someone on the death penalty and go through the appeals process for decades sometimes. Harris campaigned openly in San Francisco as an opponent of the death penalty, so in a sense, she kept her word.
Harris also brokered a huge foreclosure settlement for California residents who lost their homes due to fraudulent shenanigans after the economic meltdown after pulling California out of the nationwide mortgage settlement talks. A coalition of state attorneys general and federal agencies spent nearly a year trying to hammer out a deal with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers: Bank of America Corp., Wells Fargo & Co., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Bank/GMAC Mortgage after were accused of using illicit tactics to wrongfully foreclose on homeowners. Kamala pulled out of the coalition and won her state more money than those in the coalition. And while her fighting for the consumer was a little too late (it’s better to be proactive than reactive), something is better than nothing.
A few other notable accomplishments of Kamala Harris include creating a special Hate Crimes Unit, focusing on hate crimes against LGBT children and teens in schools, and she started a program that gives first-time drug dealers the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment.
Now, the not so good. Senator Harris claims she’s a progressive, but her record at times says otherwise.
Kamala Harris and police have been accused of turning a blind eye and protecting gang members (they were really bad people allowed to work as FBI informants) from the Nuestra Family. Court documents and testimony revealed that San Francisco Police Department and the District Attorney’s office under current California Attorney General Kamala Harris protected a high-ranking gang-member-turned-informant from repercussions for criminal activity including drug trafficking, fraud, extortion, and weapons possession to assault and murder.
Abraham H. Guerra Sr., a Norteno lieutenant and career criminal who beat an attempted murder charge because the shooting victim was too frightened to testify against him, also was shielded by San Francisco law enforcement from going back to prison again and again, despite repeated attempts by his parole officer to get him off the streets.
A professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles who has studied confidential informants said San Francisco authorities’ (including DA Kamala Harris) decision to allow Guerra and other criminal informants to remain at large, “shows an appalling disregard for public safety, disregard for the potential innocent bystanders, for the safety of people who would come into contact with, and finally disregard for the safety of the informants themselves.” At times, Kamala was a part of the corrupt criminal justice system. She played the game just like the all do. It’s politics! There is also a damming opinion written in the New York Times about Senator Harris being on the wrong side of history, a lot.
Also on her watch during her tenure as DA in San Francisco, there was a scandal at the San Francisco police lab where a longtime Police Department criminalist who testified for the prosecution in scores of cases skimmed cocaine from the lab to help her quit drinking. The female criminalist also implicated other analysts in sloppy investigative work. To further complicate things, the criminalist had been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence in 2008. The admission prompted Harris to dismiss 700 pending drug cases and prompted the police to shut down the drug lab.
It was also discovered DA Kamala Harris, who was running for state attorney general, and her predecessors failed to seek and disclose potentially incriminating information about law enforcement witnesses. She was asleep at the wheel, and she oversaw a criminal enterprise pretty much. Although she was not directly responsible for the misdeeds, her lack of policies, mechanisms, and inspections to ensure evidence collected by police used for prosecution assured the poor oversight continued.
It’s not clear whether cases that were dismissed were ever refiled. That was a waste of taxpayer dollars, law enforcement investigator’s time and it harmed public trust.
But wait, there’s more.
Also of note, Kamala Harris was the California State Attorney General from 2010–2016, there were 610 police shootings. State data analyzed by the ACLU indicates the rate of police shootings increased nearly every year after she was elected as the State Attorney General. Blacks accounted for approximately 21 percent of arrest-related deaths, 6 percent of the state’s resident population, and 17 percent of the arrest population. When compared to the state population, Blacks accounted for arrest-related deaths at a rate that was 3.59 greater than expected (21 percent divided by 6 percent). Much of the disproportionate representation was therefore attributed to the relatively high arrest rate for Blacks.
No other racial/ethnic group was notably over-represented. Like everywhere else in America, Blacks were over-policed on Kamala Harris’ watch.
Lastly, in 2016, the California’s Legislative Black Caucus had beef with the then State Attorney General Kamala Harris while she was running for the U.S. Senate because they believed she should have done more to increase accountability and ensure impartial investigations over the fatal police shootings of black men in the state and nationally if she planned on holding a Senate position.
As the State Attorney General, Harris was opposed to legislation that would require her office to independently investigate fatal police shootings, which also meant she would be responsible for investigating shootings of Black men. Had she approved such legislation, she would have never won her Senate seat.
Her solution was bullshit. It’s was just smoke and mirrors.
The then State Attorney General Kamala Harris cited new statewide police training procedures to combat racial and ethnic bias and the creation of a website and other policies that provide unprecedented transparency about in-custody deaths, arrest rates and citizen complaints against law enforcement. It equates to nothing more than more self-policing. cops simply monitoring themselves. That was her white flag for concerned Black residents in her state.
Kamala chose politics over Black lives, in a state with a history of police beating and killing and over-policing Black men. It could be said Kamala is Black when she needs us for personal gains. This is why I have issues with Blacks working in the criminal justice system. Some public affairs experts note Senator Harris has been smart about finding the right issues to talk about that would not alienate the law enforcement community.
Senator Harris is a politician. She’s a new Senator who hasn’t served an entire term yet. She’s been a career law enforcement official in America’s corrupt and morally bankrupt criminal justice system. She’s been cautious about speaking up about police corruption to save her ass and her political aspirations.
In a state like California where there is a long history of police brutality, and federal oversight due to police corruption, her lack of enthusiasm to oversee police brutality investigations in the era of Black Lives Matter and a never-ending video evidence of egregious police misconduct deflection put a really nasty taste in my mouth about her candidacy.
I’m a mother of two sons, a grandmother of three sons. I worry about my brother, my father who has lived through the Civil Rights Era, and Black and Brown young men who may come in contact with rogue cops of all colors. Kamala will be disrespect by the law enforcement community the same way Obama was, and Black people in communities around the nation will pay the price for having yet another nigger as the head of their U.S. Justice Department. They may be a little kinder towards her since she’s apparently been one of them on the low for decades.
To me, having Senator Kamala Harris would be like having another President Obama. Always waffling on the edge of Blackness, never able to speak up on our behalf because she needs to appease and put at ease Whiteness. She’d be Black when it’s convenient — Black when she needs me — Black as long as Blacks aren’t causing problems for her career aspirations. Then she’d do just like the Obama’s.
She’d ride off on her White chariot so she can wear $4,000 Balenciaga Boots like Michelle Obama and tell us how hard it was to be a Black woman in the White House in this White world — a world that she chose to be in.
I have seen this movie before. I’m not hating, just stating how it works when you’re Black living on the edge or when you’re able to crossover.
The former director of Loyola Law School Project for the Innocent, Lara Brazelton, wrote a scathing indictment in the New York Times a few days ago. “Most troubling, Ms. Harris fought tooth and nail to uphold wrongful convictions that been secured through official misconduct that included evidence tampering, false testimony and the suppression of crucial information by prosecutors.” Brazelton also notes Harris did not support statewide standards governing the use of body-worn cameras by police officers. A rationale was not provided as to why the state’s top cop would not endorse and create such a policy in a state with a terrible history of police corruption.
Who do these stances hurt more than anyone else? People of Color, that’s who. How do you justify this to Black people? How do you stand before Black women and say you’re with them? Well, you can if you’re a polished liar and a waffler.
As far as I’m concerned, she looks like me, but she’s not one of us, and that shit is complicated.
With that said, I’m keeping my eyes to the hills where my evils are coming from waiting on the next one to present itself for a review. You’ll have to make your own decision on Senator Kamala Harris. There is plenty of details about her time in California. It hasn’t all been good. No one knows how this thing will end, but don’t put your eggs in Senator Harris’ basket yet.
She is going to be heavily scrutinized, and I’m not sure how forgiving Black folks will be in the age of R. Kelly and Black Lives Matter. If Black people wake up and investigate Kamala’s record, she definitely won’t be the Democratic nominee for President in 2020. But who knows, we have Donald Trump as the President. Anything can happen.
Hopefully Black people won’t tow the “She’s Black so what” line. We have to do better with leadership selection and holding people accountable and not just White people. It means holding Black people accountable too, no matter how painful it is.
But the one thing I know for sure is that as a Southerner fully aware of police brutality and the ins and outs of how the criminal justice system works intimately, I personally cannot support her candidacy unless she is the only thing left on the table with Donald Trump. If I have a choice, I can’t in good conscience choose Senator Harris to by my President.
Marley K., 2019
*Correction: Harris was California State Attorney General, not U.S. Attorney General. I corrected this mistake.
To learn more about Senator Harris, check out these sites below:
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