2020 Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg told a man at an event in Iowa that “racism has no place in American politics” after the man said he should “just tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crimes.” In June, a white police officer shot and killed a black man in South Bend in June, and Buttigieg, who is the mayor of South Bend, has been dealing with the fallout.
The man was booed by the crowd at the Carroll County, Iowa, barbecue after the comment. Buttigieg said “I think that racism is not going to help,” but the man continued “No, just stop committing crimes! Has nothing to do with race!”
“The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism,” Buttigieg answered. “It is evidence of systemic racism and with all due respect sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job, too. It is a smear on law enforcement.”
Buttigieg then said, “Racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job, too” as the crowd chided the man, saying, “Shame on you!”
“When black people and white people are treated the same by the criminal justice system, it will be easier for white people and black people to live in this country and it will be easier for law enforcement to do their job, but racism has no place in American politics or in American law enforcement,” Buttigieg continued.
Buttigieg answered a question last week at the Democratic debate about the June 16 shooting, saying the “community is in anguish.”
“I couldn’t get it done,” Buttigieg said about the failure to adequately diversify his city’s police force. He acknowledged that nothing he could say could bring back the life of Eric Logan, the man who was shot. The officer who shot and killed Logan had not turned on his bodycam.
There have been protests in South Bend since the shooting, with one protester on June 22 telling Buttigieg, “You are truly running for president, and you want black people to vote for you. You [are] running for president and you want black people to vote for you — that’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen.”
Buttigieg has struggled to gain support among black voters, with a recent Quinnipiac University poll showing Buttigieg with 0% of African American voters‘ support.
Jack Turman contributed reporting.