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Buttigieg returns to South Bend after fatal police shooting of a black man

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
Pete Buttigieg. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

Mayor Pete Buttigieg returned home to Indiana on Friday from the 2020 campaign trail in an effort to "promote healing" after a white police officer fatally shot a black man on June 16, reports NBC News.

Why it matters: Some critics have suggested Buttigieg has a history of alienating minorities in South Bend. In 2011, Newsweek described the Midwestern community as a "dying city," after the population dropped by 3.9% two years prior. Buttigieg ran for mayor on a platform to revitalize his hometown, but some of those progressive plans have since been characterized as gentrification.

Driving the news: At a march on Friday, community members gathered to memorialize the death of Eric Logan, 54, and protest the police shooting. One activist said black voters would not support Buttigieg for president. The South Bend mayor responded: "I'm not asking for your vote... I will promise that there will be a review to make sure that there is no racism [in] this department." The protestor challenged Buttigieg, arguing that racism is deeply rooted within the local police force.

  • A lawyer for Logan's family said Buttigieg is at fault for the shooting for failing to stop police misconduct, reports ABC.
  • Area residents are particularly upset about the shooting because South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill did not have his body camera or dashboard camera turned on during the confrontation, says ABC.

Other criticisms of Buttigieg's record in South Bend:

Firing a police chief

Details: Buttigieg fired Police Chief Darryl Boykins in 2012 for allegedly taping his white senior officers' phone calls, reports the New York Times. Boykins was attempting to catch his colleagues using racist language. Since terminating Boykins, Buttigieg appointed 2 white chiefs.

The impact: Minority residents were reportedly upset that the new mayor sided with white police officers instead of Boykin, per Times. South Bend City Council and residents have asked for the recordings to be released, but Buttigieg refused without a court order, says New York Times. They also pushed for a citizens' review board to evaluate police operations.

What he's saying: In his political memoir, Buttigieg said the police tapes "affected my relationship with the African-American community in particular for years to come."

Demolishing abandoned homes

The plan: In an effort to attract businesses and people back to downtown South Bend, Buttigieg targeted "1,000 Houses in 1,000 Days," in a 2011 plan that sought to demolish and rehabilitate abandoned and vacant homes.

The impact: While the development initiative was championed by some, other residents were critical that "...the benefits have not flowed equally to South Bend's large minority communities," the New York Times wrote.

Why it matters: In his 2020 run for the White House, Buttigieg is using his record of revitalizing parts of South Bend to, in part, illustrate why he'd make a good president.

"I’m not sure we got that completely right. If there’s one thing that I would encourage people to look at in the future, [it] is to really find a fair way to fine tune that enforcement because a lot of it almost inevitably falls to the discretion of the code enforcement personnel.”
— Buttigieg to the Christian Science Monitor

Other critiques: During a 2015 speech about racial reconciliation between black citizens and the police, Buttigieg used the phrase "all lives matter." He addressed the statement at the 2019 convention for the National Action Network, and said at the time he didn't understand the phrase was "coming to be viewed as a sort of counter-slogan to Black Lives Matter," reports CNBC.

Go deeper: Pete Buttigieg: Everything you need to know about the 2020 candidate