However, it was not clear how the sponsor was disconnected from the event as the group was present throughout the day.
Harris (California) and nine other Democratic presidential candidates were scheduled to talk about reforming the criminal justice system at Benedict College, a historically black college in Columbia, SC. But Harris announced late Friday that she was going to skip the event, accusing the organizers of celebrating Trump's record of "decades of mass incarceration and fomenting death for innocent black Americans, withdrawal of police responsibility and racist behavior Life of the people endangered.
"Donald Trump is a lawless president. Not only does he circumvent the laws of our country and the principles of our constitution, but there is nothing in his career that deals with justice, justice or the celebration of justice, "Harris said.
Harris Fights for It The White House invited only 1
0 college students to attend Trump's speech while filling the audience with his followers. Classes were canceled and campus students were encouraged to stay in their dorms while Trump was there. On Saturday afternoon, right in the middle of the forum, Harris said the college dropped the sponsor of the event, the 20/20 Bipartisan, Justice Center and opened the event for the larger student body to attend.
Commenting on the end of their boycott, Harris announced a statement from the forum's organizers:
"I am pleased to welcome presidential candidates to criminal justice. A forum dialogue that fully supports the students of Benedict College and the broader community Participation, "said Steve Benjamin, Mayor of Columbia. "I want to clarify that the candidate forums are hosted by me and Benedict College. This part of the weekend is not a Presidential Justice Center 20/20 event.
However, the organization continued to tweet about the event on Saturday and shared several photos of Harris. And outside the auditorium where the event took place, it was unclear what changes could have been made to sponsor the alleged removal of the 20/20 Party-Based Justice Center.
No banner indicated the name of the group. Volunteers for the event wore purple and yellow shirts with the inscription "BC VOICE BC VOTE" – short for Benedict College.
The only external indication of sponsorship was a typed note on one of the doors that told attendees that they could enter the area to be photographed or filmed for "Marketing Material of the Nonpartisan Justice Center 2020".
The Harris campaign and the 20/20 non-partisan Justice Center did not immediately return the call to comment. Also the mayor's office is not.
Instead of attending the forum, Harris had planned to hold a separate discussion on criminal justice reform, a matter politically problematic for her because of her background as a San Francisco prosecutor and as a California prosecutor. While Harris argues that her record uniquely qualifies her to tackle the systematic issues, her critics say she was once part of the problem.
At the Saturday event, Harris said she was upset that Trump had been honored.
"I just could not believe that Donald Trump would receive an award related to the reform of the criminal justice system," she said. "This is someone who disregards the voices that have existed for decades in the reform of criminal justice. The people who have sacrificed to create justice in this system. "
None of the other Democratic presidential candidates invited to the forum had intended to skip this.
After Harris initially dropped out, Sen. Cory Booker (DN.J.), a leading voice on the Senate reform of the criminal justice system, tweeted, "I saw what happened today. And I will be there tomorrow. I have some things that I think they can be heard from me – directly. "
On Saturday morning, Booker also criticized the incident of giving Trump" a platform that was unchecked just an hour ago "and" allowing him to create an illusion when he actually shut it out, "said Hannah Burton, a college student Benedict College that the President's visit had disrupted campus activities throughout the week.
Some courses were canceled on Thursday and the cafeteria was closed. On Friday, the day Trump was on campus, most students were advised to stay in their dorm rooms rather than walking around the campus.
Burton and others who lived in dormitories near the building where the President spoke were told that they could not attend their dorms at all on Friday morning. Most of her classmates went home over the weekend to avoid chaos, she said.
Trump spoke to the Forum on Friday and received the Bipartisan Justice Award for the signing of the First Step Act, which facilitated the mandatory minimum requirements. Unlike the Democrats, who answered questions from the public, Trump held a short-lived speech for more than an hour before a crowd of mostly Trump supporters sang "four more years" talking about making him, not the Democrats, the best choice to raise African Americans.
"All my life, I have committed myself to promoting fairness and opportunities for the African American community," said Trump.
He also tried to relate to their challenges with the criminal justice system by asking them to investigate likened he is confronted.
"You know that, you see what's going on with the witch hunt. It is a terrible thing going on in our country. No crime, it's an investigation in search of a crime, "Trump said," but in America you're innocent until you have proven guilty, and we have no investigation into this crime. "
Trump suggested Harris on Saturday morning for canceling her performance.
I will not go to a very wonderful, mostly African-American event today because yesterday I also received a big award for being able to pass important laws on the subject Developing and signing criminal law reform that will greatly help the African American community all other communities), and that was not possible in previous administrations, despite a tremendous desire, "Trump tweeted.
Harris struck back on Twitter and wrote, "All my life, I've been fighting for justice and justice for people – something you would not know about – the only part of the criminal justice system that you can claim credit for is the "criminal" part. "
Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Amy Wang reported from Columbia, SC