Democratic Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg Shuts Down Racist Question at Iowa Event

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg shut down an attendee’s advice at a Democratic Party event in Iowa on July 4 when they suggested that he should “tell the Black people of South Bend to stop committing crimes and doing drugs.”

The question was asked during a barbecue in Carroll County, Iowa, CBS News reported. The attendee’s question comes after the police shooting and killing of a Black man by the name of Eric Logan. Logan, 54, was shot and killed on June 16 by Sergeant Ryan O’Neil of the South Bend Police Department after he was allegedly found breaking into cars, the Associated Press previously reported. O’Neil reported that Logan approached him with a knife after he was told to put the knife down. However, there is no body camera footage of the incident, according to the AP.

“Mayor Pete, there has been some controversy in South Bend between the police and the Black community, and I have a solution for you, and I’d like you to make a comment on my proposal,” the attendee said, according to Politico. “Just tell the Black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs.”

His statement prompted boos from the crowd. “Sir, I think racism is not going to help us get out of this drama,” Buttigieg responded, according to Politico.

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, fired back at the attendee when he said his solution had “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 said.

“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.”

The man, who was identified by Politico as Dave Begley, told the publication he is not a member of the Carroll County Democratic Party but wanted to come to the event because he writes for Powerline, a conservative blog. He told Politico that he did not view his comment to the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate as racist.

“I just urged him in order to resolve the racial controversy in South Bend, is to urge the Blacks in South Bend to obey the law so they’re not going to have confrontations with the police, and he dismissed me as a racist, which I resented and he knows he’s wrong,” Begley told the publication. “Because in Chicago 20 Black people are probably going to get shot this weekend. I don’t think 20 Black people should get shot.”

The fatal shooting had sparked protests in South Bend. Buttigieg has received criticism over the shooting, and some have accused the mayor of not being aggressive enough to set rules to stop police misconduct from happening in the city, the AP previously reported.

On June 26, Logan’s family filed a lawsuit against the City of South Bend. The lawsuit accuses O’Neil of “making racist comments by a fellow patrolman eleven years ago.” It also notes that Logan was not wearing his body camera, despite the city's requirement that all patrol officers must wear body cameras.“The misconduct described in this Count was objectively unreasonable and undertaken with willfulness and reckless indifference to the rights of others. In addition, the misconduct and excessive force, including use of deadly force, described in this Count ‘shocks the conscience,’” the lawsuit read.

On July 4, a special prosecutor appointed Richard Hertel from Ripley County to investigate the shooting, ABC News reported.

Buttigieg addressed the fatal shooting while was taking questions at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition with Reverend Jesse Jackson on July 2 in Chicago. The mayor of South Bend said his administration had not done enough to solve the racial gap with the city’s police department."I can't say we've done everything we need to do, because the results aren't there," Buttigieg said, according to NPR.

Buttigieg has also tried to win over Black voters during his campaign for the presidency. During the National Action Network’s annual conference, the 37-year-old mayor said if he is elected into office, he would sign a bill that would study reparations for slavery.“I believe an agenda for Black Americans needs to include five things that all of us care about: home ownership, entrepreneurship, education, health, and justice,” Buttigieg explained.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.