Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro was the lone Democratic presidential candidate to mention the recent scourge of police shootings that have disproportionately targeted Black people. While the 12-person panel, the largest in presidential debate history, debated everything from healthcare to the economy, when the topic of gun violence came up, Castro was more than ready.
Already jockeying for speaking time on the crowded debate stage, Castro spoke directly to Black people and broadly to America when he condemned the most recent instance of police violence. Castro spoke incredulously when describing how a police officer fired his gun directly into the bedroom of Atatiana Jefferson, killing her instantly early in Fort Worth, Texas, on Saturday morning.
“I am not going to give these police officers another reason to go door to door in certain communities,” Castro said emphatically before dropping the line of the night. “Because police violence is also gun violence and we need to address that.”
Black Twitter gave Castro a resounding round of cyber applause by unleashing what seemed like a neverending stream of tweets supporting his comments.
Police violence is something that Black Aerica knows all too well. The country was fresh off the criminal trial of the year when Amber Guyger was convicted of murder for killing Botham Jean in his own home in Dallas last year. The trial revealed a series of coverups initiated by law enforcement in that case, and the same thing seems to be happening in the Jefferson case in Fort Worth.
It took nearly three full days to criminally charge the officer who killed Jefferson, and that came after the now-former cop Aaron Dean resigned from the Fort Worth Police Department. With that type of apparent Blue Wall of Silence presiding over what seemed like every single police department in America, it was no wonder that gun violence, especially against Black and brown people, has flourished.
Ten of the 12 candidates not named former Vice President Joe Biden or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren were polling below the front-running duo jockeying for the top spot in the three polls released in the hours before the fourth Democratic debate on Tuesday night. And while Warren enjoyed a nearly double-digit lead in percentage points over Biden in Public Policy Polling’s survey of voters in Maine. But the roles were reversed in South Carolina, where Biden was holding a commanding lead over all of the other opponents. A third poll of New York voters showed a tie between Biden and Warren with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders lurking not far behind.
None of those three candidates — or anyone else — mentioned police violence in the overall context of gun violence during the debate Tuesday night.