There is a lot to like about Senator Kamela Harris, and I celebrate her selection as Joe Biden’s running mate.
She’s an experienced office holder who has done well in contentious hearings in the Senate. Before going to Washington, Harris was a strong Attorney General for the State of California. And, before that she navigated the torturous San Francisco City political circus to become our first woman, first person-of-color District Attorney.
She’s bright, dedicated. And from my own personal experience she is focused on doing what’s right instead of just what’s politically beneficial.
My connection to Kamela is small and not personal. But, about 9 years ago I was impressed by her actions and judgement in her role as DA. I still am impressed by her.
Back in 2011, or maybe it was 2010, I served on the San Francisco Criminal Grand Juror for three months. We were presented cases by Deputy District Attorneys who wanted us to indict people instead of having them go through a preliminary hearing. Many of cases we heard involved suspects who were in mental hospitals, couldn’t help in their defense, and therefore had to be indicted instead of facing a preliminary hearing which they wouldn’t understand.
But, our biggest case, one that took weeks to learn about, was a case involving a gang that was preying on people in a low-income residential area of the city. For days we listened to testimony of police officers, lab techs, field techs, video techs, and others. We watched video and examined the cache of assault weapons used in crimes.
We saw a lot of different investigators from the DA’s office and from police task forces. Day after day we saw evidence of meticulous dedication to reigning in the terror that was controlling a part of the City. All of what we were shown and asked to review was professionally, painstakingly presented.
In the end we returned an indictment of over 100 counts for felonies ranging from drugs to weapons to murder.
I suppose there is nothing special about the behavior of the DA and the police. But, damn it, there was.
DA Harris spent tons of her office’s limited budget developing solid cases against criminals who were attacking poor people of color. There was no political benefit to Harris that would reward the use of her budget this way. The victims, if they voted, were certain to vote for Harris regardless of any work she did on their behalf. After all, she was an historic change in an office that had been a stronghold of white city politicians for forever.
But, Kamela not only devoted a lot of resources to this prosecution, she gave the case quality staff people. Details were investigated and clearly explained in court.
So, 9 or 10 years later, I am still saluting DA Kamela Harris for putting the right priority on her work. I was happy that the Grand Jury voted indictments years ago and I am happy to vote for Harris for Vice President in 2020.