VOICES: River City, Episode 201: Jeff Harris is cruel and does not deserve a city council district

Last week the city of Sacramento, led by District 3 Councilmember Jeff Harris, launched a widespread, violent sweep against hundreds of unhoused folks living in trailers and cars on Commerce Circle. Since City Manager Howard Chan is less likely to commit to sweeps these days unless a councilmember tells him to do it in their district, it’s safe to infer that Harris was the mastermind behind this move, which tore families apart and forced people to lose some of their only belongings just two weeks before Christmas and days before a massive storm hit the region. Harris confirmed as much in a public meeting that week. 

Not only that, he’s currently pushing the American River Flood Control District to terrorize these folks even further, using a loophole in the landmark Martin v. Boise decision, which deemed homeless sweeps without sufficient shelter/housing options to be cruel and unusual punishment. 

The ultimate irony? In the midst of Harris’s reign of terror against unhoused folks, he found himself just last weekend receiving a “Heroes for the Homeless” award. The neoliberal consensus is truly beyond satire. 

One possible ray of light in this dark moment: Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and others on the dais disagreed with the sweeps and are pushing this week for a new ordinance that would stop the city from towing the trailers and cars of unhoused folks if officials cannot provide shelter or a safe space for their vehicles to go. 

Another beam of sunshine? 

Jeff Harris has been drawn out of his council district in this year’s redistricting process, and word on the street is that he is livid. If he wants to defend his seat in 2022, he’ll need to move from East Sacramento to South Natomas. Think that’ll happen?

Another option for Harris is to wait until 2024 to run against District 4 City Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, whose jurisdiction he now lives in. 

We also take a moment to discuss Sacramento’s new police chief, Kathy Lester. Lester, the city’s first female police chief, will be replacing Daniel Hahn, who was the first Black police chief. Hahn’s four-year tenure was marked by civil unrest that reflected a national movement to hold violent cops accountable for their actions. We discuss his time as the city’s top cop, and what we can expect from Lester. 

Thanks for listening, defund the police and, as always:

Twitter: @youknowkempa, @ShanNDSTevens, @Flojaune, @guillotine4you, @aolbites

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Sacramentans can hear us on 103.1 KUTZ Tuesdays at 5 pm and again Wednesdays at 8 am.

If you require a transcript of our episodes, please reach out to info@voicesrivercity.com and we’ll make it happen.

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VOICES: the podcast
Independent. Weird. Audio. The VOICES: River City podcast is here to talk all things Sacramento with the region's activists, artists and aardvarks.