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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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Trump Tried To Bully Kamala Harris And She Clapped Back In The Most Hilarious Way Possible

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Trump Tried To Bully Kamala Harris And She Clapped Back In The Most Hilarious Way Possible

Kamala Harris / Instagram

P1: Kamala Harris may be out of the race, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to stay quiet. On Tuesday, the former Democratic Presidential Nominee clapped back on Instagram to a tweet Trump had aimed at her. The tough-as-nails former prosecutor has never been one to mince words when it comes to confronting bullies and haters. Who could forget that epic showdown she had with the snarky college student who asked her about gun control? But this time, Harris’s wrath is aimed at a more powerful for: the president. 

After announcing the suspension of her 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, Trump took to Twitter to lob a gloating comments Harris’s way. “Too bad,” he said. “We will miss you Kamala!”. Harris, for her part, wasted no time showing the president who’s boss. “Don’t worry, Mr. President,” she replied. “I’ll see you at your trial.”

Naturally, the internet exploded in glee over Harris’s quick-witted response.

As of Thursday, Harris’s viral tweet has racked up over 186,000 retweets, 44,000 comments and a whopping one million likes. Supporters and fans alike commented on her post with compliments like:”Best tweet ever” and “Omg the shade”. So, although many are disappointed that the once-front runner nominee of the Democratic primary will no longer be on the ballot, many are at least comforted by knowing that she has retained her trademark sense of humor

What’s not a laughing matter, however, is the trial that Harris was referring to. After Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi confirmed that the the House had “no choice” but to move forward with articles of impeachment, the House Judiciary Committee announced that its next impeachment hearing will be on December 9th. This comes after the The House Judiciary Committee released a 300-page report that detailed the relationship between Trump and Ukraine. So, as of now, Trump is on track to be the third president in the history of the United States to be impeached. 

The House has concluded that Trump, in the words of Pelosi, has “abused his power for his own personal political benefit at the expense of our national security by withholding military aid and a crucial Oval Office meeting in exchange for an announcement of an investigation into his political rival”. The political rival was Vice President Joe Biden, whom Trump viewed as a threat to his upcoming presidential campaign. 

Although Harris’s clap-back was funny, her withdrawal is still a loss for the presidential nominee pool that now falls woefully short on candidates of color. 

Harris, with her stellar resume, has long been a shining star in the Democratic Party. Not only was she both the first African-American and first woman to serve as California’s Attorney General, but she was also first South Asian-American and second African-American woman to serve in the Senate in US history. In other words: she is well-qualified to take on any job she tackles.

Both presidential candidates Cory Booker and Julian Castro blame the Democratic National Committee for not throwing their support behind candidates of color in the same way they do with white candidates. As of now, the DNC’s lineup of debate participants (and therefore more publicity), are all white: Amy Klobuchar, Tom Steyer, Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders. “What message is that sending, that we heralded the most diverse field in our history, and now we’re seeing people like her dropping out of this campaign?” Booker told Politico. “Voters did not determine her destiny.” 

As for now, it’s nice to get some comfort from Harris’s unparalled talent at confronting bullies.

When Americans are forced to deal with realities as depressing as the 2020 campaign, you can’t blame them from grasping onto what little entertainment is presented to them.

This Twitter user thinks that Harris’s comeback was step above the usual “shade” throwing.

We’ll remember this description for later. 

This person believes that Harris should win an award for her clap-back.

We would love to be able to hand her a medal for this shade. 

This person kindly pointed out whose tweet had the more likes and retweets–despite Trump having 67 million followers compared to Harris’s 3 million followers.

You might even venture to think that Harris’s followers are more passionate than Trump’s. Hmm…

This man is a man of few words, but we concur with his sentiment

As always, we stan a queen. And Kamala Harris is definitely one of them. We’re pretty sure she’ll continue to serve the American people for a long time to come. 

Julian Castro Says Kamala Harris Dropped Out Because Of An Unfair Media That Covers People Of Color Differently

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Julian Castro Says Kamala Harris Dropped Out Because Of An Unfair Media That Covers People Of Color Differently

Hope Howard / Getty

Kamala Harris is the most recent candidate to drop out of the presidential race, demonstrating that candidates of color have struggled to gain the same attention as their white counterparts. Cory Booker and Julian Castro have each made public pleas for donations when their campaigns nearly shuttered due to a lack of funds.

Castro released a video and spoke to BuzzFeed to defend Harris following three major news outlet’s exposés on her campaign. The former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development suggested that candidates of color are held to different standards by the media and their campaigns suffer because of it. 

Julian Castro says the media doesn’t treat candidates of color the same.

“The way the media has treated [Kamala Harris] has been something else. The way they’ve held her to a different standard, a double standard has been grossly unfair and unfortunate,” Castro said in a Twitter video. 

Following Kamala Harris’ decision to drop out of the presidential campaign, Julian Castro released a statement praising her campaign and suggesting it suffered because she was a woman of color.

“To me, they held her to a different standard, a double standard, to other campaigns. And I don’t know if it impacted her decision to withdraw from the race or not, but I’m sure it didn’t help,” Castro told BuzzFeed News

Castro’s campaign has similarly struggled to gain momentum in the race. A lack of support disqualified Castro from participating in the most recent debate. Moreover, his campaign nearly ended before a public ask for more donations to fund its continuation.

Castro suggested the media tried to smear Harris’ campaign.

“I was disappointed by the treatment her campaign got especially during the last seven days, when you had the Washington Post, New York Times, and Politico writing very gossipy-sounding big articles trashing the campaign,” Castro said.

The articles Castro referenced suggest Harris’ campaign struggled financially, was poorly managed and lacked direction. The pieces largely rely on anonymous sources who were campaign insiders.

“[Campaign manager Juan] Rodriguez faced criticism inside the campaign over his handling of finances and other issues. Multiple people affiliated with the campaign said its financial difficulties had forced recent cutbacks in advertising, travel and staffing,” according to the Washington Post

Over a dozen anonymous staffers told Politico Harris’ sister Maya Harris too often took the lead which only added insult to injury to Rodriguez’s poor leadership. A constant restructuring of positions, then later on layoffs, left campaigners feeling directionless. 

“Everybody has had to consolidate. Everybody has had to make cuts. And people are pissed. They see a void. They want to push someone out,” an aide told Politico.” And I understand that. But the root cause of all of this is that no one was empowered really to make the decisions and make them fast and make them decisively.”

However, Castro was critical of the sources used in the three articles and painted them as salacious attempts to takedown Harris. 

“Sourcing in journalism, just because somebody is willing to talk doesn’t mean that reflects a reality or that necessarily gives it front-page coverage in your publication,” Castro said. “Donald Trump was very willing to talk to journalists in 2015 and ‘16 and because of that journalists gave him a lot of coverage. There has to be more responsibility in the profession than that.”

Castro wants the DNC to reconsider the threshold to qualify for debates because candidates of color don’t get a fair shake from the press. 

Harris was able to qualify for the next debate while Castro was not. The debates required candidates to fundraise an increasing monetary goal, along with polling at a certain number in order to participate. If Tulsi Gabbard and Andrew Yang fail to qualify there may not be any candidates of color at the debate, while there will be at least one low-polling billionaire that many believe bought his way into the election. 

“I hope that the DNC will reevaluate its threshold,” Castro told BuzzFeeed. “What it’s resulting in is a lack of diversity on the debate stage. It’s also clear that some have been able to potentially buy their way on stage. I don’t think that was the original intention with putting thresholds like this in place, but we need to make sure that voters have the opportunity to hear from a range of candidates.”

Castro said the DNC and media prioritize white candidates and white voters. He has been critical of the fact that Democratic primaries favor states with disproportionately high white populations. 

“I actually believe that in addition to the white working class in the Midwest, we also need to be able to appeal to diverse communities in Detroit, Philadelphia, and Milwaukee if we want to win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin,” he said.