Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro addressed police brutality during a conversation on gun violence at Tuesday’s primary debate in Ohio.
When CNN moderator Anderson Cooper asked the contenders about mandatory and voluntary gun buybacks, programs fellow Texan candidate Beto O’Rourke has supported, Castro noted how such plans could have unintentional harmful impacts on communities of color.
“There are two problems I have with mandatory buybacks,” the former U.S. Housing Secretary said. “Number one, folks can’t define it, and if you’re not going door-to-door then it’s not really mandatory. But also, in the places that I grew up in, we weren’t exactly looking for another reason for cops to come banging on the door.”
The Mexican-American candidate then addressed the recent killing of Atatiana Jefferson, who was fatally shot in her Fort Worth, Texas home last week by a police officer in front of her 8-year-old nephew.
“And y’all saw a couple days ago what happened with Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth,” Castro, 45, said. “A cop showed up at 2 in the morning at her house, when she was playing video games with her nephew. He didn’t even announce himself, and within four seconds, he shot her and killed her through her home window.”
He continued, naming police brutality a form of gun violence: “She was in her own home, and so I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door to door in certain communities because police violence is also gun violence, and we need to address that.”
Castro, who also noted that is was common to hear gunshots in his neighborhood growing up in San Antonio, Texas, is one of the only candidates to recognize police excessive force as part of gun violence. During the summer, he released a “People First” plan that proposed ways of ending hyperaggressive policing, how to hold officers accountable and ways to build bridges between law enforcement and communities of color.