South Bend Mayor and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was forced to pause his campaign this week to address a police shooting in his hometown.
On June 16th, white police officer Ryan O’Neill shot and killed black suspect Eric Logan, 54. The incident occurred while O’Neill was exploring a parking lot in response to reports of car burglaries.
The area was dark and O’Neill’s police lights were not on. O’Neill claims Logan got out of a parked car and approached him wielding a knife.
O’Neill’s body camera did not record the altercation.
On Friday, a group of Black Lives Matter supporters confronted police to demand the resignations of O’Neill and Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski.
“I’m mad because my brother died,” said Logan’s brother, Tyree. “People are getting tired of you letting your officers do whatever they want to do.”
Mayor Pete has already struggled to attract support from black voters, and his response to the police shooting may very well have cost him a crucial demographic.
In 2012, Buttigieg ousted the city’s black police chief over accusations that he had improperly recorded white officers’ use of racist language.
In 2008, O’Neill faced an internal inquiry over his use of the phrase “black meat” to describe an African American woman.
Speaking to residents during a town hall meeting on Sunday, Buttigieg said he would welcome outside scrutiny of the case – including from the Justice Department – but refused to sign a petition asking the agency to investigate.
Buttigieg acknowledged residents’ complaints about the local police force, but offered no solutions.
“We have tried, but not succeeded to increase diversity in the police department,” he said. “And while body cameras have been implemented across the police department, there is frustration, which I share, that they were not there when we needed them the most.”
“What I hope African Americans watching this see is that our city is facing this. We’re not running away from it. This isn’t theoretical for us, this isn’t something being debated in Washington,” he continued. “This is our problem, as it is a problem in so many places. And we are on the front lines of it. And we’re doing everything we know how.”
Residents expressed disappointment when Buttigieg attended the South Carolina Democratic Convention on Saturday.
“You went to South Carolina when you got something here in your own city?” asked community activist Komaneach Wheeler. “Why don’t you want to talk to us?”
Editor’s note: Mayor Pete is under the gun and find himself with no answers. Makes you wonder what he excpects to do on the national stage, in the unlikely event that he is elected President.
Buttigieg’s lack of experience in the real world is a huge problem for him. The debates this weekend will be telling.