Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris joined California Gov. Gavin Newsom for a tour of the wildfires that have devastated parts of the state. The fires have claimed 35 lives, destroyed thousands of homes, and forced thousands more to evacuate. In a series of photos, Harris and Newsom are captured walking through the rubble of a home destroyed by the Creek Fire in Fresno County. They shared photos of their walk on Twitter.
Spent time surveying a burn site with @GavinNewsom in an area that has been devastated by the recent wildfires in California. I’m incredibly grateful for the courage of our brave firefighters and those who have come near and far to help those fleeing the destruction. pic.twitter.com/EHSUPgkOsl— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) September 15, 2020
The rubble seen in the photos happens to be the former home of the Patten family, who were told they were not allowed to see what was left of it. So you can imagine the emotions they went through when they saw these two politicians walking through it.
Trampas Patten shared his reaction on Facebook.
"What has me really frustrated right now is the fact that these two politicians used my parents' loss for a photo opportunity to push their political agenda," he writes.
He and his sister Bailee spoke with Fox26 News as well, having more to say about Harris's and Newsom's trespassing.
"When we saw those photos, it was—there aren’t words," said Bailee Patten. "We haven't even seen our house. We haven't even seen our property - there is no house."
“This is where we grew up, this is our memories...we haven't been able to deal with our loss," she added. "Instead we're having it play out on social media."
A family whose home was destroyed by California wildfires hadn’t even been allowed to see the devastation when they saw Kamala Harris using their pain as a political prop.— Trump War Room - Text TRUMP to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) September 17, 2020
“This isn’t just devastation, this is our lives … When we saw those photos, it was—there aren’t words.” pic.twitter.com/j4vhOUcOb2
"We're survivors," Bailee said, rejecting the term "victims." "We're gonna get through this, but the whole community has lost. And to just take a picture of one loss, it's not enough."
Fox26 News told viewers that they reached out to both Newsom's office and the Harris campaign for a reaction. All they got from Harris's communications director was the flippant remark, "I'm not going to have anything about that."