On the day Julián announced his candidacy for President of the United States, he talked about health care and education, economic prosperity and immigration. And he also talked about the frightening rate at which unarmed black and brown folks have been killed by law enforcement officers all over America.
“If police in Charleston, South Carolina can arrest Dylann Roof after he murdered nine people worshipping at Bible study, without hurting him,” he said in January, “then don’t tell me that Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice, and Aiyana Jones, and Eric Garner, and Jason Pero, and Stephon Clark, and Sandra Bland shouldn’t still be alive today, too.”
In March 2018, in Sacramento, California, police shot and killed a young black man named Stephon Clark. Stephon, you might say, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. In fact, he was in his grandmother’s backyard. Police were looking for a vandal in the neighborhood that night in the dark. A police helicopter spotted 22-year-old Stephon and two officers ran to attempt an apprehension. They reeled around a blind corner and one yelled, “Gun, gun, gun, gun!” The officers immediately fired their weapons 20 times. Stephon Clark fell and died there in his grandmother’s backyard, a cellphone on the ground next to him. There was no gun. He had done nothing wrong.
Stephon Clark’s story is not unique. In the United States, according to a Washington Post analysis, nearly one thousand people are shot and killed by police each year. When you break down that number, you see clearly that black men make up a disproportionate number of the victims of excessive police force. This is not a case of a few bad apples. The system is broken.
We have on our hands a national crisis in public safety. If elected president, Julián Castro would treat this as the crisis it is, demanding of a federal response. This is Julián’s plan to fix this broken system:
End over-aggressive policing and combat racially discriminatory policing.
Hold police accountable.
Start the healing process between communities and law enforcement.