Kamala Harris (File Photo)
Washington: The US has two systems of justice for Black and White Americans, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris has said, as the Indian-origin Senator rebuked President Donald Trump and his Attorney General for denying there is systemic racism in the country’s justice system.
The strong criticism from Harris, the first Black and Indian-American woman on a major party vice presidential ticket came less than two months before the US presidential election.
Democratic Party’s presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Harris are challenging incumbent President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence of the Republican Party in the November 3 election.
Harris, 55, strongly criticised President Trump and Attorney General William Barr for denying there is systemic racism in the US justice system, saying they are “spending full time in a different reality.”
“The reality of America today is what we have seen over generations and, frankly, since our inception, which is, we do have two systems of justice in America,” Harris told CNN in an interview.
But she said she was optimistic that as a nation, Americans hold dear to an ideal that is inscribed in marble on the Supreme Court, which is that ideal of equal justice under law.
“And so, while we have two systems of justice, we also fight for equal justice under law. And that means doing what Joe Biden and I are proposing, which is having a criminal justice system that, yes, bans choke holds and carotid holds, make sure that we’re going to require accountability for police officers who break the rules and break the law.”
Harris said their administration would invest in communities and the economic strength of those communities, but doing it all recognising that there are huge disparities in the country based on race.
“And it does us no good if we want to solve those disparities to pretend they don’t exist,” she said.
Harris also suggested that President Trump was not a “real leader” on racial justice and was trying to “pretend that he has been a leader” on the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t think that most reasonable people who are paying attention to the facts would dispute that there are racial disparities and a system that has engaged in racism in terms of how the laws have been enforced,” said Harris, a California senator and former state attorney general.
“It does us no good to deny that. Let’s just deal with it. Let’s be honest. These might be difficult conversations for some, but they’re not difficult conversations for leaders, not for real leaders.”
Barr, America’s top law enforcement official, dismissed the idea of “two justice systems” told CNN on Wednesday. “I think we have to be a little careful about throwing the idea of racism around,” he said. “I don’t think it is as common as people suggest.”
Asked specifically about systemic racism during his visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, last week, Trump refused to acknowledge it, saying, “Well, you know, you just keep getting back to the opposite subject. We should talk about the kind of violence we’ve seen in Portland and here and other places.”
Protests against racial injustice, particularly in law enforcement, have swept across America as police violence against Black Americans — including George Floyd in Minneapolis, Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Daniel Prude in Rochester, New York — has dominated headlines in recent months.
“I’m very clear that we have got to in America re-imagine how we are accomplishing public safety,” Harris – the child of immigrants from India and Jamaica – said.
“If we want to create safe communities, one of the smartest ways we can do that is invest in the health of those communities, because healthy communities are safe communities,” Harris said.
“There is no vaccine for racism,” she had said in her acceptance speech last month and criticised Trump for turing “our tragedies into political weapons,” she said.
“Donald Trump’s failure has cost lives and livelihoods,” Harris had said, referring to the racing tensions and the coronavirus pandemic that has severely hit the country.
CNN, quoting a July ABC News/Washington Post poll, reported that nearly nine in 10 Black Americans said they are not confident police treat Black and White Americans equally, while a majority of White Americans said they are confident they are treated equally.
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