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Former rival Julian Castro endorses Biden as best candidate to reform policing

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Former rival Julian Castro endorses Biden as best candidate to reform policing

Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Julian Castro takes part during a televised townhall on CNN dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, California

(Reuters) - Former Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro endorsed Joe Biden for president on Tuesday, saying he understands the urgent need to reform law enforcement practices amid the nationwide protests over the police killing of a black man.

Biden, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, vowed earlier on Tuesday in a speech in Philadelphia to try to heal the United States' racial divide, and blasted Republican President Donald Trump's response to the protests.

"Joe Biden recognizes the urgent need for real reform to address our broken policing system," Castro, who had made police reform a pillar of his campaign, wrote on Twitter.

"I'm proud to support him, and I look forward to seeing these reforms become law, so that what happened to George Floyd never happens again," Castro said, referring to the African-American man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police last week.

The Texas native, a former federal housing secretary and the grandson of a Mexican immigrant, dropped out of the Democratic race in January. During his run, he repeatedly called for a national use-of-force standard, increasing police transparency, and demilitarizing police.

As the only Latino in the Democratic nominating race that Biden has effectively won, Castro's backing could help the former vice president gain support in Latino communities, expected to be the largest minority voting bloc in the presidential election.

Biden - who was vice president under Barack Obama, the first black U.S. president - cast himself in his Philadelphia remarks as the candidate who best understands the longstanding pain and grief in the country's black communities.

He said Floyd's killing was a "wake-up call" for the nation that must force it to address the stain of systemic racism.

Trump on Monday called the violence that had riven some of the protests "acts of domestic terror" and threatened to deploy the military to secure American cities.


(Reporting by Michael Martina; editing by Jonathan Oatis)