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Historic First: Attorney General Kamala Harris Sworn In

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Officially the first African American, and Woman elected to state post

By Cheryl Brown –

Kamala Harris, former San Francisco District Attorney became the first woman, first African American, and first Asian Indian to become the Attorney General in California. Hundreds attended the historic occasion. Several history makers were in the audience: former speaker of the House Willie Brown, an Assembly members, law enforcement officers and attorneys, business leaders, union leaders, ministers, elected officials, state leaders, national NAACP board members, Black newspaper publishers, and people who wanted to be a part of history. Excitement was high as a large crowd waited in the courtyard of the California Museum for History, Women and the Arts in Sacramento.

At the appointed time, from the second floor down a flight of stairs came the new very excited Attorney General to a clapping and cheering crowd. The air of excitement continued as Harris’ Indian culture was put on display and classical Indian dancer Vidya Sundaram performed a traditional dance, followed by the presentation of colors by the Department of Justice Color Guard and the Sacramento Area Firefighters, Local 522 Color Guard, before the national anthem sung by Gerald D’Arcy of the San Francisco Police Department. The invocation was given by Fifth District Bishop T. Larry Kirkland of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

To look out over the crowd there was so much pride from so many people to take place, her hand on the Bible held by her sister Maya Harris, the recognition that the Honorable Tani Canti-Sakauye, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, herself a historical milestone in the State’s history was a special moment. A collective cheer went up as the words of the oath were completed. The weather was very cool, and the rain had muddied the dirt floor of the courtyard, but no one complained or left.

Many sat on the edge of their seats waiting to hear what Attorney General Harris would say. She did not disappoint. Her common sense approach to fighting crime sometimes seemed to contradict itself. She wants to see a drop in crime that seems to follow truant students but she will put parents who don’t see that their children get to school in jail. The crowd cheered. There was something for everyone. She plans to focus on recidivism; reforming the revolving door prison system, protecting consumers from mortgage fraud and other scams and preserve the state’s natural resources. She is committed to protect and defend the lives and livelihoods of all Californians.

“Many times I have looked into the eyes of a crime victim and repeated this promise; It’s not you alone versus the defendant. It’s the people of the state of California,” she reassured the tough on crime advocates.

Instead of tough on crime she offered a phrase “smart on crime. ” “When an appalling 70% of those released ……. reappear within three years; when we spend twice as much on prisons as we invest in colleges and universities …when criminal gangs present an expanding threat across the border and in prison walls…It is time to recognize the need for some drastic repair.” She has already begun the work and set up a Smart on Crime working groups with many of the state’s best thinkers and practitioners who are using innovative approaches to solve to make our state safer. “But being smart on crime starts with being tough on violent crime,” she said.

She will task the group to get away from the one size fits all approach to crime fighting. “That approach is failing us badly.” Among those announced, San Bernardino DA Mike Ramos is on the team.

Harris said she will also fight the predatory lenders that prey on defensive citizens. She will aggressively defend AB 32, the bill passed to protect California’s environment as well. She will protect workers and vigorously enforce labor laws.

Throughout her speech there was applause of agreement and when she took a stand on the new technology crimes many applauded. “People who break into our homes electronically will face the same consequences as those who break into our homes physically,” she said.

As she finished her speech she recognized her late mother, Shymala Harris as the toughest smartest and most loving person she has ever known and gave her credit for teaching her children to grab hold of your destiny, look forward and have courage to embrace change each and everyday of your life.

Assembly member Sandre’ Swanson (D-Alameda) looked on with pride and said this in a statement, “She …embodies many firsts in her approach to administering justice.

She represents a new era in justice in our state…. She will address the interrelated systemic problems that infect our corrections system and schools while also protecting consumers, the environment and keeping our children safe from sexual predators…. She recognizes the relationship between education and corrections and is ready to fix these problems through a comprehensive and holistic approach.

Bishop Kirkland summed up the feeling of historical importance of those in attendance, “The installation of Kamala Harris has been the most historic event I’ve been privy to witness and participate in, in my 35 years in ministry in California.” Calling this a well deserved achievement, he believes her administration will be equal and fair.

“This election is a classic example to young people that if they are willing to trust God and apply themselves to the fullest, nothing is impossible,” said Kirkland.

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