Senator Kamala Harris on Stephon Clark and the ‘implicit bias’ of law enforcement

Kamala Harris
(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

On Thursday, Senator Kamala Harris spoke to a crowd in Sacramento about the death of Stephon Clark and the need to eliminate bias in policing.

Clark, 22, was shot and killed by Sacramento police in his grandmother’s backyard. Police reportedly believed that he had a gun, but he was holding a cell phone.

Since his death, Black Lives Matter protesters and local residents have continued to call for justice.

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“There is no question that this was a life that should not have been lost, that this is a life that should not have been ended,” Harris said, speaking to a crowd gathered at the nondenominational Unity of Sacramento church, according to the Sacramento Bee.

“I grieve with this community … My heart breaks for what has happened,” Harris added.

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In speaking to the crowd, Harris also called for “leadership” in changing America’s policing and criminal justice systems to address the problems that have led to too many Black people losing their lives.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done,” Harris said. “I think about it not only in the context of Sacramento but I think about it in the context of those people who are at the highest levels of leadership.”

In particular, Harris wants law enforcement around the country to confront the fact that there is often “implicit bias” when police deal with people of color.

“When your bias is coupled with the fact that you carry a gun, it is something that has to be a priority,” she said.

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In addition to asking for law enforcement to do better, Harris asked for the federal government to step up to address other underlying factors such as poverty and violence.