During the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 7, Kamala Harris and Vice President Mike Pence took notably different stances while talking about protests in response to police brutality against the Black community. Armed with her background in criminal justice, the California senator didn't hold back when talking about the Black Lives Matter movement — and unsurprisingly, there were plenty of memorable moments in the face-off. Case in point: This Kamala Harris quote from the vice presidential debate was clear about why she didn't think justice was served in the killing of Breonna Taylor.
While debating her Republican counterpart at the vice presidential debate on Wednesday, Oct. 7, Harris contrasted herself to Pence as an expert on law enforcement, saying she "would not be lectured" by the vice president on the issue. The senator became visibly emotional when talking about participating in peaceful protests following the deaths of Black Americans, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, in police related killings. Taylor was killed in her own home during a "no-knock" police raid, while George Floyd was killed when a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest for an alleged nonviolent crime.
When moderator Susan Page asked both candidates if they thought justice had been served in Taylor's case, Harris said no. "I don't believe so, and I've talked to Breonna Taylor's mom. Her family deserves justice. She was a beautiful young woman. She had as her life goal to become a nurse, and she wanted to become an EMT to first learn what's going on out on the street so she could then become a nurse and save lives, and her life was taken – unjustifiably, and tragically and violently."
"It brings me to the 8 minutes and 46 seconds that America witnessed during which an American man was tortured and killed under the knee of an armed and uniformed police officer," she added, referring to Floyd's death at the hands of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, who has since been charged with murder and released on bail. Representatives of Chauvin previously declined to comment to Elite Daily on the charges. "People around our country of every age, of every color, of every gender stood shoulder to shoulder fighting for justice under the law," said Harris. "Bad cops are bad for good cops. We need reform of our policing in America and our criminal justice system."
In his response, Pence was quick to condemn the "looting and rioting" that had occurred during the protests over the deaths of Taylor and Floyd, as well as other Black people in America.
"Well, our heart breaks for the loss of any innocent American life. And the family of Breonna Taylor has our sympathies," he said. "But I trust our justice system." Pence dismissed the idea that systemic racism exists in the United States and said that justice had been served in the case of the 26-year-old, who was killed in her apartment in March 2020 when four plainclothes officers conducted a botched no-knock raid. None of the cops were charged with murder by a grand jury.
Harris, who built a name for herself as San Francisco's district attorney and California's attorney general before making history as the first Black woman and first Indian American to run for vice president on a major-party ticket, has come under scrutiny for her mixed record on policing over the years and her support of harsher sentencing laws. However, her stance on reforming law enforcement has evolved in recent years. She has signaled support for more investment in community and police relationships, saying in a June 8 interview on The View that she's open to "reimagining how we do public safety in America."
During the debate, she laid out a comprehensive plan for police reform that would take place under the Biden-Harris administration, saying she would ban chokeholds, eliminate cash bails, decriminalize marijuana, and set up a registry for police officers who'd been found guilty of misconduct.
Harris' powerful quotes about fighting against racial injustice give voters a clearer picture about some of the police reforms that the Biden-Harris ticket hope to enforce to demand more accountability from law enforcement.