Yesterday, Philadelphia made history and held its first-ever town hall by formerly incarcerated leaders. Sadly, only New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, California Sen. Kamala Harris and businessman Tom Steyer were in attendance.
Booker called out his other opponents.
According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Booker said at the town hall to the other candidates, “Where are you today? Where are you? Seriously. This is a major national crisis.”
Booker also added, “It’s very easy to put a tab on your website and check a box to say you care about this issue — what have you been doing?”
He continued, “This is a nation that tortures people in prison. I’m not using that term loosely — juvenile solitary confinement, shackling of pregnant women. This is a moral issue that is a cancer on the soul of our country.”
Watch the town hall below:
Over the weekend, there was a criminal justice forum at Benedict College, an HBCU in Columbia, South Carolina. Donald Trump spoke and was given the “Bipartisan Justice Award,” just days after comparing his impeachment to a “lynching.” The room — at an HBCU — included over 200 of his allies and only 10 students (seven attended). Students were even told to not leave their dorms from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m
Harris was scheduled to participate, however, she said in a statement, “As the only candidate who attended an HBCU, I know the importance that these spaces hold for young Black Americans.” Harris attended Howard University.
“When it became clear Donald Trump would receive an award after decades of celebrating mass incarceration, pushing the death penalty for innocent Black Americans, rolling back police accountability measures and racist behavior that puts people’s lives at risk, and then learned all but ten Benedict students are excluded from participating, I cannot in good faith be complicit in papering over his record,” Harris said.
Thankfully, because of Harris’ protest, the group who gave Trump the award were removed and students were allowed to participate in future forums. Harris then participated but there were protests.
Criminal justice forums are serious and should never be dismissed, especially when held at an HBCU or historically giving the formerly incarcerated a chance to let their voices be heard.