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Julian Castro says nation has too many police officers "too quick to make assumptions"

Julián Castro on “The Takeout”
Julián Castro on “The Takeout” 50:53

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro said of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin that "there's a double standard in this country when it comes to law enforcement and how they treat Black Americans versus White Americans." 

Blake, a Black man whose shooting sparked protests throughout the state and country, including the cancellation of professional sports games and practices in the NBA and WNBA, MLB and NFL, is in the hospital and paralyzed after Kenosha police officer Ruston Sheskey shot Blake, who was not armed, seven times in the back. Video of the shooting quickly went viral. 

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"We have too many officers that are too quick to make assumptions. And I believe that it's actually a mix of fear, lack of understanding and fear, especially of Black men," Castro told CBS News' chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett in this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast. "It's a manifestation of less respect, of a dehumanization that has cooked itself up in somebody's mind, thinking of people as lesser than so you can treat them that way."


Highlights: 

  • White House naturalization ceremony aired on the Republican National Convention: "[The immigrants in the ceremony] didn't know that they were going to be political props, that this was going to happen during the actual RNC and be part of a broadcast. And so they were tricked. They were basically fooled into becoming political props for Donald Trump. They did know that Trump was actually going to be a part of the ceremony himself. It's also ironic because this president has been the most anti-immigrant president and not just against undocumented immigrants."
  • Pence's remark that Americans "won't be safe in Joe Biden's America:" "I mean, this is just 1968. You want to elect Richard Nixon, except worse. This guy thinks that basically he's in 1968, he's trying to revamp a modern day, 'law and order campaign.' In the meantime, it's been the most corrupt, lawbreaking administration maybe in our nation's history. This president is the most mendacious, most lawbreaking president we've ever had. And he's the one talking to anybody about law and order."
  • Black Lives Matter protests around the U.S. in response to the violence against George Floyd, Jacob Blake: "We see consistently in law enforcement that when you're dealing, especially when they're dealing with a Black man, there's an assumption already made about that they're dangerous, that any little movement they make represents an attempt to get a weapon or represents a threat to the officer. That in and of itself is unacceptable and disappointing and it has tragic consequences for African-Americans day in and day out. We just saw that with Jacob Blake. But the other part of that, that is sad and we really need to reflect on and do something about, is that Americans accept that. They accept that stereotype. They buy into it or they let it go. And it's not a true one."

The former Obama administration secretary of Housing and Urban Development said it's "sad" that many Americans accept the stereotypes painted of Black men as inherently dangerous. "They accept that stereotype. They buy into it or they let it go. And it's not a true one," Castro said.

Castro was also critical of the Trump campaign's use of the White House during the Republican National Convention this week, in what he called a "blatant" and "flagrant" violation of the Hatch Act. Multiple R.N.C. events were held at The White House during the convention, including a naturalization ceremony on the second night and President Trump's speech on the South Lawn Thursday. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also spoke at the convention while he was on official U.S. business in Jerusalem. 

"There is a distinction between the role that somebody plays in their official capacity — representing all of the people all of the time — versus their capacity as just a politician that is going to say and do what they want to say and do in order to get elected," Castro said. 

The Hatch Act, passed in 1939, prohibits executive branch civil service employees from engaging in political activity. 

"This administration is so hell bent on doing whatever they want, breaking whatever rules they want, not in the people's interest, but in their own political interest," Castro said. "That shows an absence of leadership."

While Hatch Act sanctions against presidential appointees are typically left up to the president, Castro hopes Congress will find stricter ways to enforce the Act. "When this administration is done — and I hope that's soon after the election — you know, I think that Congress should go back and look at ways that it can put more teeth into something like that," Castro said.

As H.U.D. Secretary, the Office of the Special Counsel determined that Castro had violated the Hatch Act in 2016 in an interview with Yahoo News after Castro answered questions about Hillary Clinton's chances in the 2016 election and whether he would consider being her running mate at the time. In the interview, Castro noted that he was answering in his personal capacity, but the O.S.C still deemed it a violation.

"You know it was an innocent mistake." Castro told "The Takeout." "I didn't mean to make it, but as soon as I did make it, we made sure that it didn't happen again. You compare that to this administration, starting with Kellyanne Conway, who very early on violated the Hatch Act and was told that — and then continued over and over and over again."

For more of Major's conversation with Castro, download "The Takeout" podcast on Art19, iTunesGooglePlaySpotify and Stitcher. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit www.takeoutpodcast.com. And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings). 

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