Kamala Harris: Police Officers Must Face ‘Accountability and Consequence’

Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks in Washington, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said on Sunday that more emphasis needs to be placed on “accountability and consequence” for police officers amid rising tensions in cities nationwide, as violent protesters continue to target law enforcement.

“As we remember the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many more whose lives were cut short, we must commit to reforming policing—ensuring officers face accountability and consequence for abuses of power,” Harris said on Sunday following weeks of violent riots across the country:

“You know, I know from my time of being a prosecutor that, you know, in the criminal justice system, people talk all the time about consequence and accountability — accountability and consequence — and they always talk about it in terms of the person who’s arrested,” Harris said, suggesting that the focus turn to “people who are in the system and the system itself.”

“Are we holding the system and the people who work in the system accountable? And when they break the rules and break the law, is there a consequence?” she asked, adding that there are “a number of things we need to do” to reform policing in the country.

That includes banning chokeholds and “creating a national standard on the use of force and conditioning federal funds for police departments on adoption of that standard.”

“So we hold police officers accountable,” she continued, placing an emphasis on the police rather than the details surrounding the police-involved incidents and violent protests.

“It’s about giving the Department of Justice, the United States Department of Justice, the subpoena power to investigate systemic police misconduct, right?” she continued.

“As far as I’m concerned, the whole system needs to be reformed. And the police issue is a very important piece of that,” she added.

Harris’s remarks follow months of violent protests, which took off after the May 25 death of George Floyd. Protests have since dominated several U.S. cities, from Minneapolis to Washington D.C. to Portland to Philadelphia to Kenosha. Many of these protests have descended into states of anarchy, with protesters looting, vandalizing, and targeting police officers. One hundred and thirty-two police officers were injured in Chicago alone the week following Floyd’s death. More recently, five police officers were injured after responding to a protest in D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Plaza over the weekend. According to the department, some protesters were fixated on “damaging property and injuring Metropolitan Police Department officers.”

“These individuals ignited fireworks, intentionally set fires, as well as threw projectiles — including glass, bricks and smoke grenades, at officers in the area,” the department said. “Additionally, lasers were used to visually impair officers.”

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