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No, Kamala Harris Didn't 'Lock Up' Lil' Kim in 2006

Recently found footage from a 2006 BET reality show has some people convinced that Harris is responsible for the rapper's sentence.

by Kristin Corry
Aug 2 2019, 6:52pm

Kamala Harris: Screenshot of Countdown to Lockdown, Lil Kim: Johnny Nunez/WireImage

Kamala Harris is facing criticism from a group she probably wasn't expecting: Lil' Kim stans. After this week's Democratic debates, Queen Bee fans uncovered old footage from BET's Countdown to Lockdown, a 2006 reality show that followed the rapper's 2005 federal charges, is being discussed and spun in ways that might be damaging to Harris' campaign.

The show followed the Brooklyn rapper in the two weeks before she turned herself into Philadelphia Federal Detention Center after being charged with perjury. Harris, who was a District Attorney of San Francisco at the time of filming, appears in the show to share her criticism of the rapper's behavior and denounce anti-snitching culture. "What I would like to see in the way that we're handling cases like those of Lil' Kim, we say as a community that we're not going to glorify the gangster," she said in the clip.

In 2005, Lil' Kim was found guilty of perjury after admitting to lying before a grand jury during the trial for a 2001 shootout outside of Hot 97, a New York City radio station. The Hardcore rapper was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and hit with a $50,000 fine.

"I testified falsely during the grand jury and the trial," Lil' Kim told judge Gerald E. Lynch. "At the time I thought it was the right thing to do, but now I know it was wrong."

While Harris' appearance on the show was simply to add legal perspective as a DA and give her opinion on the matter, the footage is now being widely misinterpreted on social media, with some Twitter users accusing her of personally putting Lil' Kim in jail. The clip is also being used to contribute to longstanding criticism of Harris' criminal justice record.

While Harris had some tough words for Kim, she had no actual involvement in the rapper's case. But her commentary on Countdown to Lockdown has nonetheless led to the dissemination of false claims that Harris "locked her up."

Although she had nothing to do with Kim's charges, Harris' record as a prosecutor has been under serious fire this week. During the debates on Wednesday night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called Harris out for her allegedly hypocritical stances on cannabis and the death penalty. "There are too many examples to cite, but she put over 1,500 people in jail for marijuana violations and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana," Gabbard said. The Hawaii Representative also mentioned Harris' role in a 1983 death penalty case, alleging that the California senator denied DNA testing that may have exonerated a man on death row. PolitiFact however, found both of Gabbard's claims to lack some context and evidence.

Ahead of the 2020 election, voters have every right to hold the history of the presidential candidates up to scrutiny. This case, however, is a clear example of how Twitter's fast-spreading satire can contribute to misinformation.

Kristin Corry is a staff writer for VICE. Follow her on Twitter.