LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 02: Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro speaks during the 2020 Gun Safety Forum hosted by gun control activist groups Giffords and March for Our Lives at Enclave on October 2, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Nine Democratic candidates are taking part in the forum to address gun violence one day after the second anniversary of the massacre at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival in Las Vegas when a gunman killed 58 people in the deadliest mass shooting in recent U.S. history. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Julián Castro announced Sunday the first endorsements for candidates he says are committed to “fighting for reform to our broken criminal justice system.” Last year, Castro, a housing secretary under President Obama, was the first 2020 Democratic candidate to introduce a plan for reforming police departments and has since started a political action committee dedicated to supporting policing reform.

He endorsed Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, George Gascón, candidate for Los Angeles County District Attorney, José Garza, candidate for Travis County, Texas, District Attorney and Cook County, Illinois, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Pressley and Foxx are incumbents, while Gascón will face off against incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey on November 3. Garza, who received the most votes in the primary, faces incumbent D.A. Margaret Moore in a May 26 runoff.

“I’m excited to see the energy and the passion that’s formed around police reform and criminal justice reform for that will ensure that what happened to George Floyd doesn’t happen again.” Castro said in an interview with CBS News. “It’s important if we’re going to deeply reform our policing system, that we do it at the national level, the state level and the local level. And that’s why I’m proud that we’re supporting a number of candidates for D.A., as well as a fantastic Congresswoman, like Ayanna Pressley, who is already leading at the national level by introducing some substantial reforms to policing in this country.”

Castro’s endorsements come as the nation is embroiled in protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

On Friday, Pressley, along with Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, introduced a bill that would make it a crime for police officers to deny medical care for people in custody.

“Black and brown lives have been endangered by systems of oppression for generations. As a nation, we have an opportunity to summon the political courage and act.” Pressley said in a statement. “Julián Castro has been a pace setter in the national conversation about deep, lasting, and urgent police reforms that will save lives.”

During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary Castro was the only candidate with a standalone plan to address policing. Since launching his “People First Future” PAC, Castro has raised more than $65,000 for groups on the ground in Minneapolis supporting the protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd. The PAC has committed to donating, doing digital events, signing emails to candidates’ lists and emailing the entire “People First Future” email list on the candidates’ behalf.

Castro, who last week endorsed Joe Biden for president, praised Biden for calling for specific policing reforms like banning chokeholds. While Castro has made no recommendations to the Biden campaign on potential running mates or cabinet positions, Castro told CBS News that it’s important for police accountability to be a staple in a potential Biden administration.

“We absolutely need a Department of Justice that will work to hold officers and police departments accountable when excessive force is used and will work to make DOJ funds contingent upon a local police department adopting a set of policies that will protect citizens better from a system that right now is broken.”

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