On The Late Show Wednesday night, Stephen Colbert invited on California Senator Kamala Harris who, like previous guest Stacey Abrams, is currently in the running for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick.
“I’d be honored if asked, and I’m honored to be a part of the conversation,” she said. “But honestly, let me just tell you something: I will do everything in my power wherever I am to help Joe Biden win.”
Colbert and Harris discussed ongoing protests over police brutality in the U.S. and what Harris envisions as suitable police reform. Criticizing President Trump’s executive order and the GOP’s Senate bill that were both meant to address excessive force cases, she said that where the real problem lies in how the criminal justice system interprets “excessive force” in the first place.
“It’s an interesting thing, Stephen — when we talk about the criminal justice system, we will often use the phrase ‘consequence and accountability’ as it relates to someone who was arrested, but rarely as it relates to the system itself and those people working within the system,” Harris said. “And what the people who are, by the thousands in 50 states of America, marching for, is that there be equal justice under the law, as we promised as a founding ideal of our country. We’re not doing that right now, and part of the reason we’re not doing that is we’re not holding police officers who break the rules and break the law accountable, and there’s not serious consequence[s].”
Harris is currently drafting a bill with other Congressional Black Caucus members that hopes to shift the standard for excessive force rulings from “reasonable” to “necessary” — in other words, lowering an impossibly high bar to clear for convicting police of excessive force.
Harris praised protests as essential to U.S. democracy and noted the spark of hope she felt while attending the demonstrations in Washington, D.C. “People who seemingly have nothing in common have everything in common,” she said of her fellow attendees. “People of every race, age, gender, together! It was the commonality of spirit — something that is so very powerful, and I think we all have to recognize it for what it is…This is not just a moment, it’s a movement.”
When asked what the protests mean in terms of legislative change, Harris said it was “critically important” that they continue, and added, “The only way we are truly going to make change is when we have people in the system who are willing to do it.”