Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro joined Black Lives Matter activists outside of LAPD headquarters on Tuesday to demand police accountability for the death of Grechario Mack, a 30-year-old black man who was fatally shot by two officers last year.
The police commission ruled that officers violated department policy when they fatally shot Grechario, but no justice has been given to his family. That has to change. pic.twitter.com/Gf8pq5EKKz
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) December 3, 2019
“He’s here because he believes in justice for black people,” said Dr. Melina Abdullah, lead organizer of Black Lives Matter’s L.A. chapter, while introducing Castro at a joint press conference.
Castro, a former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama, tweeted: “The police commission ruled that officers violated department policy when they fatally shot Grechario, but no justice has been given to his family. That has to change.”
“I’m gonna use my voice and platform to speak up and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Castro went on to tell reporters.
NOW: In front of the LAPD office, @JulianCastro is meeting and holding a press conference with #BlackLivesMatter activists demanding justice for the 2018 police shooting of Grechario Mack at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw mall.
Castro is also joined by Mack’s mother and father. pic.twitter.com/ivpmIIsJed
— Tim Perry (@tperry518) December 3, 2019
According to City News Service, Mack was shot and killed by two LAPD officers on April 10, 2018, after he ran through a shopping center armed with a foot-long kitchen knife. Police said Mack was “aggressively” waving the blade before he moved “in the direction of mall patrons.” He “was very agitated, and it appeared that he was possibly under the influence or was going through a mental health crisis,” the department added.
Breaking: Witness video of deadly officer shooting at Crenshaw Mall. Witnesses say man had a large knife and made threatening moves. pic.twitter.com/loWqYYE9tg
— Jeff Nguyen (@jeffnguyen) April 11, 2018
According to news reports, Mack was already on the floor when the final shots were fired.
On Tuesday, Castro said the LAPD officers involved in the shooting death should be terminated, adding that law enforcement needs proper mental health training to deescalate such situations without resorting to violence. He vowed to push for a national use-of-force standard if elected, promoting his police reform strategy, which includes implementing a public database to track misconduct.
“We are appreciative that Secretary Castro is the only presidential candidate who reached out to Black Lives Matter, standing in strong solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and he’s been willing to really push for police accountability and investment in the resources that would actually make the community safer,” Dr. Abdullah said.
Castro, 45, began publicly collaborating with Black Lives Matter after Abdullah implored him to stay in the 2020 Democratic presidential race. He had threatened to suspend his campaign unless he could raise $800,000 by the end of October. After reaching that goal and extending his candidacy, Castro attended a private event in Los Angeles last month, where he spoke to Black Lives Matter activists and their allies about police brutality and prison reform. Days later, Castro announced the formal endorsements of Dr. Abdullah and her 16-year-old daughter, Thandiwe, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter Youth Vanguard.
The Black Lives Matter network of activist groups did not endorse a presidential candidate in the 2016 race because leaders were unconfident that any of the contenders would prioritize black liberation if elected. However, Time Magazine reports that during this cycle, “Castro has made a place for himself by advocating for issues affecting minority groups and by consistently pushing his fellow candidates to take a stand.” Castro has claimed America’s policing system is broken, called for the legalization of marijuana, and devised a plan to “combat the rise of white nationalism.”
Follow Jeffrey Cawood on Twitter@JeffreyCawood.