Harris campaign releases web video highlighting opposition to death penalty

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Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) presidential campaign released a web video Friday detailing her opposition to the death penalty, as progressives scrutinize the former state attorney general’s law enforcement record.

The 90-second clip features San Francisco civil rights leader Mark Leno, who discusses a case in which Harris refused to push for capital punishment in a 2003 case against an assailant who killed a plainclothes police officer while she was the city’s district attorney.

{mosads}Leno says in the ad that Harris had “pledged to never bring a capital case to a San Francisco jury” but that during the eulogies for the slain officer, “that drumbeat for the death penalty was enunciated, and 3,000 uniform police officers stood and applauded the suggestion that this assailant should be put to death.”

“I learned quite a bit about my friend Kamala at that time and that no matter what, that she would not charge or pursue the death penalty in the case,” Leno says, adding that Harris did not “crumble once the political pressure and heat is turned up so high.”

Democratic opposition to the death penalty has steadily risen, with several White House hopefuls noting the racial disparities surrounding capital punishment.

Harris’s tenure as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general has come under scrutiny as the Democratic Party’s progressive base voices skepticism of law enforcement officials. Activists have panned her opposition to a 2010 bill that would have legalized marijuana in California and her support for a measure that would have allowed her to prosecute parents of habitually truant students.

The video comes as Harris seeks to bolster support for her White House bid as national and statewide polling shows her stuck in the crowded primary’s middle tier.

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