Democratic presidential hopefuls visit black clergy conference

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Three of the democrats vying to represent their party in the 2020 presidential race made a stop in metro Atlanta Friday.

Senator Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro all took part in the "Black Church Presidential Candidate Conversation Series," which is part of the Young Leaders Conference put on by the Black Church PAC at the Georgia International Convention Center.

"It says I can do all things through Christ who [strengthens] me," Sen. Booker told the crowd.  "Now, Christ does not strengthen you to sit on the sidelines."

Each candidate had a few minutes to address the audience and then sat for a series of questions by moderators. 

"This is an epidemic and we have to act," said Buttigieg about gun violence in America.  "You know, I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened and we said we were going to do something about guns in this country--that was 20 years ago."

The Mayor of South Bend, In. also said the conversation must go beyond mass shootings and address the everyday violence that tears families apart.

If elected, Castro said he plans to address police brutality against people of color by creating a national standard for use of force and withholding federal funding from departments that do not prescribe to it.  He also wants to ensure that officers who are found in violation can no longer serve. 

"A database of decertified police officers so that police officers who use excessive force don't just get hired on at the next city or county down the block," said Castro. 

While Sen. Booker advocated for infrastructure improvements in low-income neighborhoods and an increase in the minimum wage, he spent much of his time talking about faith and encouraging churchgoers to be active participants in the political process.

"These are life or death issue.  We cannot sit on the sidelines," said Booker.  "Now is the moment."

Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren will take part in the series Saturday.