South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was met with harsh criticism from black residents at a town hall Sunday after a black man was fatally shot by white police officers.
Last weekend, Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill shot and killed 53-year-old Eric Logan. O’Neill claimed that Logan approached him with a knife but it was later reported that the officer’s body camera was not on at the time of the shooting and was never turned on.
On Sunday, Buttigieg faced a tense crowd at an emotional town hall.
“We don’t trust you!” one audience member yelled, according to The Washington Post. “Liar!” another person shouted.
“Get the people that are racist off the streets,” one woman in the audience said. “Reorganize your department. You can do that by Friday.”
“The effort to recruit more minority officers to the police department and the effort to introduce body cameras have not succeeded and I accept responsibility for that,” Buttigieg told the crowd as he struggled to deal with the hecklers.
Buttigieg canceled numerous campaign appearances to stay in South Bend to handle the fallout of the shooting.
Buttigieg vows to call for DOJ investigation:
Buttigieg said he would request that the Justice Department investigate the shooting and told reporters after the rally that he intends to follow up on the suggestions from the audience.
“You can sense the pain, not only around this incident, but around our history, not only around our history as a city, but what’s happening everywhere when it comes to the disempowerment that so many black Americans have felt in relationship to the police,” he said. “And obviously that was expressed in a lot of ways today.”
But Buttigieg’s initial response left residents unhappy.
“He talked to the media before the family. He skipped the family vigil, full of black residents. And then he then gave a speech to the police. So, how do you think that went over?” Oliver Davis, the longest-serving black member of the South Bend Common Council, told The Washington Post.
On Friday, Buttigieg faced protesters outside the police department.
“You [are] running for president and you want black people to vote for you,” one protester told him, according to CBS News. “That’s not going to happen.”
Buttigieg assured the crowd he was not asking for their vote.
“You’re not going to get it,” the protester responded.
‘Pete has a black problem’:
Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, told The Daily Beast that “Pete has a black problem.”
“I don’t know of one black person out of Indiana that supports him,” she said.
The outlet quoted other African-American leaders as calling Buttigieg “naive” on race and suggested he “had not thought about getting individuals to endorse him and that he would go back and do that.”
A YouGov/Economist poll found that just 18% of black voters were considering backing Buttigieg, compared to 68% for Joe Biden and 38% for Bernie Sanders.
A South Carolina Post and Courier poll found that Buttigieg is up to 6% among the state’s black voters. Last month, the same poll found that not a single black voter polled backed Mayor Pete.