WATCH: Kamala Harris Responds to Activist Who Said She Shouldn’t Be VP Because She ‘Put Black People in Jail’


California Senator Kamala Harris responded to a quote from activist Tay Anderson in which he said she shouldn’t be former Vice President Joe Biden’s running mate because she “put black people in jail” by arguing that she is the right person to meet this moment.

Senator Harris, who is reportedly on Biden’s shortlist for a running mate, was interviewed on Tuesday night’s edition of CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. The senator discussed President Donald Trump’s executive order on policing, which she described as “meaningless” and “empty promises,” and advocated for the package of legislation that Democrats have proposed.

“It’s not about conversations. It’s literally about requiring accountability and consequence of the system and those in the system who break the rules and break the law,” Harris told host Erin Burnett.

Toward the end of the interview, Burnett asked Sen. Harris about the veepstakes, saying “There’s been a lot of discussion about whether Biden will or should choose a black woman. Clyburn also told me last week when asked about that, his words exactly were, It would be a plus but it would not be a must. Do you think it’s a must?”

“Well, I’m not going to tell Joe Biden what to do. I want him to pick the running mate that is best equipped to help him win because more than anything, Joe Biden has got to win. We cannot suffer another four years of Donald Trump in the White House,” Harris replied, then pivoted to advocating for a Biden presidency.

But then, Burnett presented a quote from Anderson, telling Harris, “Tay Anderson is a Denver school board member, leader of that city’s protest today. I don’t know if you saw it. You might have. In The Washington Post, he was talking about you. He said: Nominating Kamala Harris in the wake of what’s going on is not the best solution. Nominating someone who’s put black people in jail doesn’t make sense at this moment.”

“What’s your response? Is he misreading your record?” Burnett asked.

“Yes — I mean, absolutely,” Harris said. “Listen, we need right now — and this is why I am leading with Senator Booker and other members and all members of the Congressional Black Caucus what we need to do to reform the system.”

“I know the system from the inside out,” the senator continued. “I’m a child of parents who marched in the civil rights movement in the 1960s, and I strongly believe if we are going to change these systems, there has to be the kind of brilliant activism that we’ve seen from the outside, like Black Lives Matter and the leadership there, combined with what we need to do on the outside to actually upend these systems in a way that we make change to get closer to the ideal we have of equal justice under the law. And it takes everybody to be a part of that process and that movement.”

Anderson’s remark was part of a broader quote in which he asserted that Harris was being considered just because she’s a black woman, and referred to her as “just a box-checker”:

“I think that he needs to figure out somebody that’s not just there because they’re a black woman, because they check a box,” said Tay Anderson, 21, a Denver school board member and a leading voice in that city’s protests. “Nominating Kamala Harris in the wake of what’s going on is not the best solution. Nominating someone who’s put black people in jail doesn’t make sense at this moment. You have to have someone who’s not just a box- checker.”

Anderson wasn’t always so down on Harris, and following the interview, appeared to indicate he would vote for Harris if she were selected. Asked for his preference, Anderson wrote on Twitter that he prefers former Georgia state legislator Stacey Abrams, but “I’m going to vote for whoever is on the ticket.”

In response to this article, Tay Anderson pointed out that his title on the Denver School Board is At-Large Director.

Watch the clip above via CNN.

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