Trump Stunk Up This Criminal Justice Forum, So Kamala Harris Went And Got Her Own
On Friday night, Kamala Harris announced that she would be pulling out of a criminal justice reform forum at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina, an HBCU, in protest of the fact that the organizers of said forum, the 20/20 Bipartisan Justice Center, gave Donald Trump a "Bipartisan Justice Award" on Friday in a ceremony that only seven students were even allowed to attend.
Harris' team sent out the following email on Friday night:
As Trump Is Awarded Despite Decades of Shameful Actions on Justice Issues and Students Are Excluded From Participating, Kamala Harris Pulls Out Of 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum
Harris will instead discuss criminal justice reform at open event with students and the broader community in Columbia
Tomorrow, October 26, Senator Kamala Harris will join students and the broader Columbia community to discuss criminal justice reform instead of participating in the 2019 Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College.
"As the only candidate who attended an HBCU, I know the importance that these spaces hold for young Black Americans," said Harris. "Today, 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. Instead, I'll host students from all campuses as well as the broader Columbia community to come and discuss this critical issue that I've worked on for my entire career.
"Donald Trump is a lawless President. Not only does he circumvent the laws of our country and the principles of our Constitution, but there is nothing in his career that is about justice, for justice, or in celebration of justice."
While one's first instinct might be to go "Oh no, what are you doing? Yes, it's gross that they gave Trump an award but it also seems like a bad idea, tactically, to skip any forums at this point!," the whole thing has very much worked in her favor. Not only is she holding a roundtable discussion on criminal justice reform with students and residents of Columbia on her own today at 2pm, the mayor of Columbia is also setting up another, separate criminal justice reform forum at Benedict College that will not be tainted by the likes of Donald Trump.
Soon after her announcement, the mayor of South Carolina's capital city, Columbia, and a co-host of the event said he was organizing an alternative forum at Benedict College, a historically black college, for any candidates who wished to participate, with Harris' campaign confirming she would be among them.
"I honestly wanted to give everyone else another option," Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin told The Associated Press about his event, which will be held with the theme "Students First" in a college chapel.
As of Friday night, Benjamin said Cory Booker and Joe Biden, and likely Bernie Sanders, planned to attend his event, as well as the original forum.
So, as it turns out, this was quite the baller move.
As Donald Trump is always looking for new and exciting ways to be terrible, he weighed in on the whole thing this morning with a few extremely stupid tweets.
It should be noted, again, that nearly all the seats at Trump's award ceremony were reserved for the administration and their guests, and that there were spots for only 10 students, only seven of whom actually showed up. All of the other students were required to stay in their dorms. Given this, one could assume that the vast majority of actual black people who showed up to the ceremony were those who were outside of it, protesting.
UPDATE: The organization that gave the award to Trump has been removed as a sponsor of the forum. Yet more proof that "you don't ask, you don't get.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse