Home 2019 Elections Video: Del. Jennifer Carroll-Foy, Packed House of Supporters, Help Parisa Tafti Kick...

Video: Del. Jennifer Carroll-Foy, Packed House of Supporters, Help Parisa Tafti Kick Off Her Campaign for Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney

"Here’s the truth; there is one progressive in this race…and there is nothing principled about pretending to be a progressive just to win re-election"

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Great event tonight on Columbia Pike in Arlington – packed house full of enthusiastic supporters, friends and family; rising star Del. Jennifer Carroll-Foy (also a VMI graduate and public defender) introducing the candidate (Parisa Tafti for Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth’s Attorney) and delivering a powerful argument for why it’s so important to elect her; and a strong, emotional speech by Parisa Tafti.  See below for video of the event, along with a few highlights from Del. Carroll-Foy’s and Parisa Tafti’s speeches. (P.S. Also note that Parisa Tafti was endorsed in the past day or so by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and by Indivisible Arlington)

First, Del. Jennifer Carroll-Foy talked about being an Arlington public defender and how she understands what happens in the county and in the courtrooms. According to Carroll-Foy, the Arlington/Falls Church Commonwealth Attorney’s office hasn’t used “discretion” intelligently the past few years, but instead has thrown draconian sentences at people for non-violent crimes (e.g., having the smell of alcohol on their breath, trespassing, “walking while black”). Many times, these people sat in jail for months as they lost their houses, their jobs, their places in college, even their children (“because she couldn’t afford $3,000 in bail”). Del. Carroll-Foy said when she talked to the Commonweath Attorney’s office about the $3,000 bail case, the response was “well, somebody should be able to give her the money.” According to Del. Carroll-Foy, “that’s what happens when you have a Commonwealth Attorney who is so out of touch that they don’t understand that there are some people who only have $30 to their name, that a $300 bond is a ‘no bond’.” “This is the normal practice of the Arlington Commonwealth Attorney’s office, and if anyone tells you any different, it is false.”

Del. Carroll-Foy touted Parisa Tafti as a woman “who has dedicated her life to fairness, equality and justice…she has spent her entire life cleaning up the messes that other Commonwealth’s Attorneys have done.” Del. Carroll-Foy added that we know we can’t “incarcerate ourselves out of addiction,” that this “tough-on-crime rhetoric has to end, because it costs us all and costs us dearly – taxpayers, children, families, our community.” “Commonwealth Attorneys, they are the litmus test of whether or not we are a just and fair society, and I am excited to have a woman step up and say I will sacrifice my time, my weekend, my family because this is so important, because I am a REAL Democrat – and I will bring those real Democratic values to the Commonwealth Attorney’s office.” “She has done the work, she has the experience, she has the resume, and we need her now…”

For her part, Parisa Tafti gave a powerful, emotional speech about her experience as a public defender and innocence attorney for 20 years. Here are some excerpts, bolding added by me for emphasis. Great job by Parisa!

“I stood at prison gates with mothers waiting for their sons to come out, sons who were convicted of crimes that they didn’t commit, [while] the real perpetrator was out preying on more victims…I’ve gotten the first DNA exoneration in DC…helped free a man who spent 28 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit…all too often I’ve been in courtrooms…in prisons and in jails, and I look around and the overwhelming majority of faces are black and brown, and it breaks my heart...The problems in our criminal and legal system are not minor and they’re not isolated. They are deep and they are systemic; they create injustice, they compromise public safety, they re-traumatize victims and survivors, and they waste time and money…Education makes us safer, and mass incarceration does not...I know that we can do better…We deserve better…and are going to do better…

I believe in running a campaign on the issues and I believe in dealing with substantive issues in a civil fashion. But that includes saying the truth when the truth has to be spoken. And here’s the truth; there is one progressive in this race…and there is nothing principled about pretending to be a progressive just to win re-electionDoes a progressive call the Arlington delegation silly and misguided for asking her to use discretion to reduce the use of cash bail? I don’t think we should be criminalizing poverty. Does a progressive think that it’s okay for the government to take your property when you haven’t even been convicted of a crime?…Does a progressive seek the death penalty? Does a progressive continue to prosecute thousands of marijuana possession cases despite the fact that the tide is turning towards decriminalization and legalization? Despite the fact that we know that if you’re black you’re more likely to get arrested. convicted and sentenced so on a possession than if you’re white

I think we need to chart these disparities, we need to release the data, and we need to close these disparities and stop wasting time and money on victimless crimes. Finally, does a progressive deny the existence of mass incarceration and then also denying its disproportionate effect on people of color?

I am Parisa Tafti, I am here to be your next Commonwealth Attorney so that our community can stem that tide… when you see a wrong it is your job, it is your duty to make it right. So here I am doing something that two years I would have laughed at you; I’m asking for your support to be your next Commonwealth Attorney.