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Kamala Harris’ Decision To Pass On Death Penalty For Gang Member Who Killed A Latino Officer Casts Shadow On Her Campaign

When Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced her candidacy for presidency in January, Democrats were conflicted. Some celebrated the possibility of our first female president of color. Others, however, were concerned about her complicated history around progressive issues in California, particularly on the death penalty.

Throughout Harris’ career, she has staunchly spoken out against capital punishment. In 2003, when she ran for San Francisco district attorney, she promised not to impose the death penalty. She won the seat, and the following year, then four months into the gig, she kept her promise in a case that has followed her into her bid for president.

A young Latino officer, Isaac Espinoza, was shot and killed by a gang member while on the job. As progressive as California is, it was unusual at the time to not seek the death penalty in cases where men in badges were the victims. But Harris held tight to her convictions, announcing in a press conference before Espinoza was buried that she would seek life without the possibility of parole, not the death penalty, for the suspect.

The San Francisco Police Officers Association was stunned, vocally lambasting Harris’ decision and never endorsing the candidate in any future election. Renata Espinoza, the widow of the late officer, was also upset.

“I felt like she had just taken something from us,” Espinoza told CNN in a recent interview. “She had just taken justice from us. From Isaac. She was only thinking of herself. I couldn’t understand why. I was in disbelief that she had gone on and already made her decision to not seek the death penalty for my husband.”

Losing the support of top Democrats in her state as well as most powerful law enforcement groups, Harris’ future in electoral politics seemed shaky at the time, but she insisted then, and today, that she “did what I believed was the right thing to do.”

That’s why it’s so confounding to Californians, both on the left and the right of the political aisle, that four years later, then state attorney general, Harris upheld the death penalty in Calfornia. In July 2014, a federal judge ruled that California’s death penalty system was unconstitutional because nearly half of the inmates on death row had been waiting for more than 19 years, uncertain of their future. The judge said the delay and confusion “violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.” His ruling, however, was appealed, as some believed it would open petitions for other inmates across the state and country. Ultimately, it fell on Harris to decide to let the opinion stand or appeal it. In a surprise to everyone, she chose the latter, refuting the judge’s language that the system for capital punishment is “arbitrary or random.” Ultimately, a politician who had built a career, and had it threatened, by her stance against the death penalty had the power to ban it in California and, instead, chose to uphold it.

For Espinoza, the appeal was a slap in the face. “It feels like, why are you changing your mind now? Why couldn’t you change your mind back then and put your feelings aside,” she said, noting that she was speaking up today “for voters to have a full picture of the candidate and her humanity.”

Despite criticism and confusion from Democrats and Republicans alike, Harris has insisted that her take on the matter has never shifted.

“I’ve been [opposed] my entire life and still am, for very good reasons,” Harris recently told Rachel Maddow.

She added: “We are talking about a system that creates a final punishment without any requirement that there be DNA to prove it … It is a system where it has been fundamentally proven to be applied to African American and Latino men and poor men disproportionately for the same kind of crime.”

The issue, which has followed her career as a district attorney, attorney general and senator, will undoubtedly shadow her into her presidential bid as well.

Read: Rosario Dawson’s Relationship With Cory Booker Could Give Us Our First US Primera Dama

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Kamala Harris Has Moved Into One Observatory Circle – Her New Home As Vice President

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Kamala Harris Has Moved Into One Observatory Circle – Her New Home As Vice President

Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff have officailly moved into their new home in Washington, D.C. – One Observatory Circle. Many people don’t realize that the VP doesn’t just live in a section of the White House alongside the sitting president.

As the family settles into their new home, many are wondering what the veep’s residence is really like and where it’s at. Well, thankfully we’re getting a special look inside the home thanks to social media.

The Vice President has her own official home not far from the White House.

Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff have moved into Number One Observatory Circle in Washington, D.C., making them the eighth vice-presidential family in American history to do so.

The official residence of the veep — often referred to as the Superintendent’s House, the Admiral’s House, or simply VPR (vice president’s residence) — the property has been home to every vice president since Walter Mondale (who served under Jimmy Carter) in 1977.

The house is known as Number One Observatory Circle and is located on a naval compound.

Built in 1893, the home is located on 12 of the 72 acres of land that comprise the U.S. Naval Observatory, a government agency where scientists work on providing astronomy-related insights for the U.S. Navy and Department of Defense. It’s located approximately two-and-a-half miles north of the White House, the President’s official residence. 

Before it housed American vice presidents, Number One Observatory Circle first served as a home for U.S. Naval Observatory superintendents. 

Today, the home measures approximately 9,150 square feet of living space. The second floor is where the main suite, office and den are located, while the other bedrooms — typically used for guests and family members — can be found on the third floor.

Unlike the White House, the veep’s residence has its own pool.

Presidential homes: Kamala Harris and Joe Biden | loveproperty.com

In 2010, now-President Biden told reporters that Quayle was his “favorite vice president” because he put in the pool, noting, “my granddaughters love it.” The Bidens welcomed many guests and even made it a tradition to host Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny on St. Patrick’s Day for all eight years they were in the home.

Pence and his wife, Karen, used it to hold yearly pool parties for military families. 

Before 1974, the Vice President was often put up in hotels.

Prior to 1974, vice presidents lived in their own homes, and those who did not own properties in or around Washington were put up in hotels, according to the New York Times

“The cost of securing these private residences grew substantially over the years,” according to the White House. This cost — plus the challenges the Secret Service faced by having to learn how to properly secure all the different locations — led Congress to come up with a more permanent solution.

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President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

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President Joe Biden’s And Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Represented America

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in as the 46th president and the 49th vice president of the United States of America. The new administration has been sworn in and the inauguration was a beautiful representation of America with people of color and women taking center stage.

Lady Gaga kicked off the 59th inauguration by singing the national anthem.

In 2017, Lady Gaga famously participated in the Women’s March the day after former President Trump’s inauguration. Four years later, the singer proudly took to the Capitol to usher in the beginning of the Biden/Harris administration. Dressed in custom Schiaparelli, Lady Gaga performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and left people speechless.

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

This was a special moment. The first Latina to ever serve on the Supreme Court was the one to swear in the first woman, first Black, and first South Asian vice president. It was a historical moment that will forever change the United States.

Justice Sotomayor has made a name for herself in American pop culture because of her blistering dissents. As the first Latina on the Supreme Court, Sotomayor opened possibilities for Latinas. We basically watched one icon swear in another icon and it is everything.

The most exciting moment of the inauguration might have been Jennifer Lopez and her remix of an American classic.

Lopez sang “This Land Is Your Land” but added a special twist. During the song, Lopez stops and says, “Una nacion, bajo de dios, indivisible con libertad y justicia para todos.” Translated, she said, “One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” That’s right. The Puerto Rican pop superstar used her moment at the nation’s Capitol building to give a shout out to all the Latinos who call the U.S. home.

Of course, the most iconic moment was J.Lo shouting “Let’s get loud.”

We all know that song. We are all singing it now after reading those three words. It was truly one of the most impactful moments of her performance. Only an icon could turn “This Land is Your Land” into a greatest hits medley. We are all better for having witnessed it.

However, it was 22-year-old Amanda Gorman that stole the entire show.

The Youth Poet Laureate was chosen to speak at the inauguration and she youngest inaugural poet of all time. She joins the impressive ranks of Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco, and Elizabeth Alexander. Her poem, written right after the Capitol riot. It was relevant, poignant, and moving.

“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.”

And, of course, Joseph Robinette Biden became the 46th president of the United States of America.

“Few people in our nation’s history have been more challenged or found a time more challenging or difficult than the time we’re in now. A once-in-a-century virus that silently stalks the country,” President Biden said. “It’s taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II. Millions of jobs have been lost. Hundreds of thousands of businesses closed. A cry for racial justice, some four hundred years in the making moves us. The dream of justice for all will be deferred no longer.

“The cry for survival comes from the planet itself, a cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear. And now a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.

“To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy: unity, unity.”

Welcome to the White House President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

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