Former Housing Sec. Julián Castro has consistently centered police violence in his presidential campaign, and last night’s Democratic primary debate in Westerville, Ohio, wasn’t any different.
As the conversation turned to gun violence, and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) struggled to explain to moderator Anderson Cooper how he would enforce a mandatory assault weapons buyback without insisting that police go door-to-door, Castro pivoted in the right direction.
“There are two problems I have with mandatory buybacks,” Castro said matter-of-factly. “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 former mayor of San Antonio continued. “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’s necessary disruption of the racial and economic flatness of the gun violence discussion drew some of the biggest applause of the night—and became the top tweeted moment of the debate.
Castro was also the first candidate to mention Atatiana “Tay” Jefferson, the 28-year-old Black woman killed by a white police officer over the weekend during a welfare check of her home.
As ESSENCE previously reported, Jefferson was in her home playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew before she was killed. Her neighbor James Smith, who became concerned when he noticed the lights on and the front door open, used a non-emergency police line to request that someone go check on her.
Responding to the call, Fort Worth Police Officer Aaron Dean fatally shot Jefferson from outside the home through a bedroom window within four seconds of seeing what he perceived to be a threat.
Dean, who resigned Monday morning before he could be fired, has been arrested and charged with murder. His bail has been set at $200,000.
Castro said Jefferson’s name, reiterating post-debate on Twitter that any gun violence debate must address police violence. “Our policing system is in dire need of reform. As we address the epidemic of gun violence we have to recognize the role of police violence in our nation.”