2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris widens support base in home state

Hearing the perspective of protesters, high schoolers and presidential candidates at the event

August 26, 2019

Kamala+Harris+addresses+a+large+crowd+gathered+in+the+Frank+Ogawa+Plaza+in+her+hometown%2C+Oakland%2C+on+Jan.+27+to+officially+announce+her+bid+for+presidency+in+2020.

Nicole Chen

Kamala Harris addresses a large crowd gathered in the Frank Ogawa Plaza in her hometown, Oakland, on Jan. 27 to officially announce her bid for presidency in 2020.

The lobby of the hotel resounded with chants of “Ka-ma-la!” after Harris’ speech on Friday. Over 100 volunteers wearing “Kamala Harris for the People” shirts streamed out of the upstairs ballroom where speeches were being given and flooded a downstairs meeting room.

Harris addressed her volunteers in the room, many of whom, according to Harris, had been active in her 2003 campaign for district attorney of San Francisco.

“This is a grassroots campaign,” Harris said to her volunteers. “That is about saying the best way of how we do these things is to be out there connecting with people, talking to them, touching them, making new neighbors. We’ve got neighbors all over the place. That’s what we’re about.”

As the DNC meeting took place in her home state, Harris had the most visible showing of volunteers. Harris has also recently intensified her campaign efforts in California. She expanded her California staff on Wednesday with seven new hires, bringing the total number of paid California staffers in her campaign to 10. Sanders, who is from Vermont, still rivals this number with 11 paid staffers in the state.

Sacramento resident and registered Democratic voter Clarissa Laguardia traveled to San Francisco to volunteer for Harris. Laguardia believed that Harris’ prior experience as District Attorney of San Francisco and Attorney General of California would help her work toward racial justice as president. As a Latina woman, she also relates to Harris through their similar experiences as women of color and children of immigrants.

“She’s a woman of color, who is a lawyer, who understands the criminal justice system,” Laguardia said in an interview with Harker Aquila. “She understands how any plan she puts out aligns with the Constitution, and being a woman of color, walking around in brown skin—I don’t think anyone else understands what that’s like.”

Harris’ previous experience raised concerns for others, like Mary Murrin, who held a sign reading “Kamala Harris Convicted Innocent People to Advance Her Career” outside the hotel.

“I wanted to raise awareness among people who might not be aware that when Kamala was a district attorney in San Francisco, she created a regime where what mattered was not truth or justice or innocence and guilt. It was about conviction rates,” Murrin said in an interview with Harker Aquila.

Previous investigations into the progressiveness of Harris’ actions as a prosecutor produced a “mixed record,” as one Politifact article stated. While Harris opposed investigations into police shootings in her office and defended the death penalty as attorney general, she instituted unconscious bias training for law enforcement in California and created Back on Track, a program to help nonviolent drug offenders re-integrate into their communities.

The next Bay Area event for Harris’ campaign will be a volunteer-organized phone bank on Sept. 7. Harris will participate in the climate town hall hosted by CNN on Sept. 4, along with nine other Democratic candidates.

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