The former drug kingpin and founder of Death Row Records shed tears and thanked former President Trump for pardoning him during a recent interview.
Michael ‘Harry O’ Harris had served 30 years of a 25-year to life sentence for conspiracy to commit first-degree murder when he learned he was going to released early from a California prison. His was one of 73 pardons and 70 sentence commutations issued by Trump during his finals days in office last week.
“I appreciate Donald Trump, his children, his son-in-law. Whyever he did it, he did it, when so many others wouldn’t do it,” Harris said of Trump, his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, during an interview with Daily Mail TV.
Snoop Dogg, who rose to stardom while signed to the infamous rap label, lobbied for Harris’ freedom along with other rappers and activists.
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“It was an awestruck moment,’ Harris said. “I’m riding in the car with my folks and we coming back from the prison. I just had a [peace] of mind and I said ‘I don’t feel it.’ They said ‘what?’ I said ‘I don’t feel what I just left.'”
He said he asked for clemency from former President Obama but nothing came of his request.
“I put in for clemency with Obama and it had to go through so many bureaucratic loopholes it never got to him I don’t believe,” he said. “But it didn’t happen on his watch.”
Harris grew up in South Central Los Angeles and eventually took up selling drugs. He expanded and had a distribution network that extended to Florida, Iowa, Illinois, New York and Texas.
He was convicted in 1988 of drug trafficking and attempted murder. Prosecutors said Harris suspected a distant relative and employee of stealing from his drug operation and had his accomplices take the pair to the desert where they were fatally shot.
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While in prison, he helped get Death Roe Records up and running. The label became a major force in 1990s hip-hop that churned out gangsta rap hits from artists like Dr. Dre, Snoop and Tupac.
“I would talk to Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and the whole family, everybody that was signed to Death Row,” Harris said. “I had an opportunity to speak with them about the vision and how their words could affect people.
“I had watched how the people in prison, Pelican Bay [correctional facility] and all these notorious yards, when they would hear those songs, the pride they would have when somebody says Compton or LA or Long Beach,” he added. “They ran for it, they embraced it.”
Other pardon recipients by Trump included rappers Lil Wayne and Kodak Black. Harris has pleged to help kids avoid a life of crime.