Sen. Harris: National Registry for Bad Cops, Decriminalize Marijuana, End Cash Bail

By Susan Jones | October 8, 2020 | 5:54am EDT
Vice President Mike Pence and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate on October 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT, ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
Vice President Mike Pence and vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate on October 7, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by ERIC BARADAT, ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

( - "We are never going to condone violence," Sen. Kamala Harris said at the vice presidential debate Wednesday night. "But we must always fight for the values that we hold dear."

Harris reminded Americans, "I’m a former career prosecutor. I know what I’m talking about. Bad cops are bad for good cops. We need reform of our policing in America and our criminal justice system, which is why Joe and I will immediately ban choke holes and carotid holds. George Floyd would be alive today if we did that.

"We will require a national registry for police officers who break the law. We will, on the issue of criminal justice reform, get rid of private prisons and cash bail, and we will decriminalize marijuana. And we will expunge the records of those who have been convicted of marijuana. This is a time for leadership--on a tragic, tragic issue--"

(The moderator cut her off).

Harris made the comments after responding to a question about whether justice was done in the case of Breonna Taylor, a Kentucky woman shot and killed by police who were trying to serve a middle of the night warrant for her ex-boyfriend, who was not in the apartment.

A Kentucky grand jury that examined the evidence found the police officer who shot Taylor did not break any laws in her death. One detective was indicated for wanton endangerment for firing his weapon into a neighboring apartment.

On the question of whether justice was served in Taylor's death, Harris replied:  "I don't believe so."

By contrast, Vice President Mike Pence said, "I trust our justice system, a grand jury that reviews the evidence. And it really is remarkable that as a former prosecutor, you would assume that an empaneled grand jury looking at all the evidence got it wrong. But you’re entitled to your opinion, Senator.

Pence continued:

I think, and with regard to George Floyd, there’s no excuse for what happened to George Floyd. Justice will be served, but there’s also no excuse for the rioting and looting that followed. I mean, it really is astonishing. Flora Westbrook is with us here tonight in Salt Lake city. Just a few weeks ago, I stood at what used to be her salon, it was burned to the ground by rioters and looters. And Flora is still trying to put her life back together.

And I must tell you, this presumption that you hear consistently from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, that America is systemically racist, and that as Joe Biden said that he believes that law enforcement has an implicit bias against minorities is a great insult to the men and women who serve in law enforcement.

And I want everyone to know who puts on the uniform of law enforcement every day, President Trump and I stand with you. And it is remarkable that when Senator Tim Scott tried to pass a police reform bill, brought together a group of Republicans and Democrats, Senator Harris, you got up and walked out of the room and then you filibustered Senator Tim Scott’s bill on the Senate floor that would have provided new accountability, new repeat resources.

We don’t have to choose between supporting law enforcement, improving public safety and supporting our African-American neighbors and all of our minorities. Under President Trump’s leadership, we’ll always stand with law enforcement and we’ll do what we’ve done -- from day one, it is improve the lives of African-Americans, record unemployment, record investments in education.

'Won't sit here and  be lectured'

Harris retorted:

I will not sit here and be lectured by the Vice President on what it means to enforce the laws of our country. The only one on this stage, who has personally prosecuted everything from child sexual assault to homicide. I’m the only one on this stage who has prosecuted the big banks for taking advantage of America’s homeowners. I am the only one on this stage who prosecuted for-profit colleges for taking advantage of our veterans.

And the reality of this is that we are talking about an election in 27 days where last week the President of the United States took a debate stage in front of 70 million Americans and refused to condemn white supremacists.

("Not true," Pence said.)

"And it wasn’t like he didn’t have a chance," Harris continued. "He didn’t do it."

[Trump did say "sure," he condemns white supremacists.]

"And then he doubled down," Harris said. "And then he said, when pressed, "stand back, stand by.” And this is a part of a pattern of Donald Trump’s. He called Mexicans rapists and criminals. He instituted as his first act, a Muslim ban.

"He, on the issue of Charlottesville, where people were peacefully protesting the need for racial justice, where a young woman was killed. And on the other side, there were neo-Nazis carrying Tiki torches, shouting racial epithets, anti-Semitic slurs. And Donald Trump, when asked about it, said, 'There were fine people on both sides.'

"This is who we have as the President of the United States and America, you deserve better. Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together and recognizes the beauty in our diversity and the fact that we all have so much more in common than what separates us."

Pence, in his rebuttal, said Harris was doing some selective editing: She omitted that President Trump, in his very first remarks on Charlottesville, did condemn hatred and bigotry.

Here's what Trump said: "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, this has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America."

Trump, in a later news conference, said his remark about "fine people" on both sides was not an endorsement of white supremacists: "I was talking about people that went (to Charlottesville) because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals."

Trump repeated that point several times: "Those people -- all of those people – excuse me, I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee."

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