Pete Buttigieg's Problems Mount As His Town Hall Explodes Over Racial Tensions

FILE – In this March 27, 2015 file photo, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks about the area’s opposition to the recently signed religious freedom legislation in downtown South Bend. Buttigieg has come out as gay in a newspaper editorial. The first-term Democratic mayor says in the personal essay published Tuesday, June 16 in the South Bend Tribune that he was well into adulthood before he was prepared to acknowledge that he’s gay. (Greg Swiercz/South Bend Tribune via AP)


Pete Buttigieg, after having the ability to do no wrong early on, has hit some rough seas the past few weeks.

Oddly enough, or not oddly enough given the state of our media, it took events happening in the town he’s supposedly still mayor of to spoil the party for him. Tensions are rising around a police shooting involving an armed suspect and a white officer. I’m not seeing much of any evidence at this point that this specific shooting was anything more than a normal call that escalated due to the presence of a deadly threat, but many are accusing the South Bend Police Department of systemic racism in the aftermath.

We’ll have to see what other details emerge and I will at least leave open the possibility that something more happened, as residents cite a history of misconduct to bolster their claims.

As I wrote a few days ago, things first boiled over onto the national stage in a cringe-worthy viral clip of Buttigieg being confronted by Black Lives Matter protestors. But after initially attempting to weather that storm, things only got worse in the subsequent days.

Yesterday, Buttigieg held a town hall in South Bend to address his constituents’ concerns and things quickly went off the rails.

(Credit to Twitchy for compiling many of these tweets.)


The LA Times did a full write-up on what transpired. Here are some quotes.

When a pastor representing Al Sharpton Jr. was the first from the audience to take the mic during the town hall’s question-and-answer portion Sunday, the crowd jeered at the outsider. John Winston Jr., a community activist, walked up to the front of the stage to confront the pastor as Buttigieg watched, taking the microphone to air his own grievances about the city’s relationship with its black residents.

“They keep begging us to reach out and bridge this gap and whatever else,” Winston, who is biracial, told the audience, recounting the time he tried to host a cookout for police officers a few years ago. “And we reached out, and they said no.”

I tried to dig up exactly what that representative said, but it’s not hard to ascertain why the crowd got upset. It’s pretty tone-deaf to bring in an outside race hustler to be the opening act at your town hall when the people who actually live in the city want their concerns to be taken seriously by local authorities. Perhaps Buttigieg felt that pandering with an Al Sharpton lackey would reduce the temperature in the room? He clearly miscalculated though.


Other attendees voiced their frustration as well.

But at home, Buttigieg is a much more common figure in American politics: a white politician struggling to connect with his black constituents, many of whom are plagued by grinding poverty and violence that their wunderkind mayor has been unable to eradicate after seven years in office.

“You might as well just withdraw your name from the presidential race,” said a woman in the raucous crowd. “His presidential campaign is over… I believe that today ended his campaign.”

Given the history of attempts to eradicate violence and poverty in low-income neighborhoods across the country, my personal reaction to this is that it’s unfair. Most of the problems with crime in these communities are self-inflicted and there’s very little a police department can do outside of enforcing the law. Even when they do that, they are usually then accused of racial bias and over-policing. So what’s the solution exactly and what exactly do these residents want Buttigieg to do?

Regardless, when you traffic in bad faith attacks, you should expect to get them back and Buttigieg is reaping what he’s sowed. On the national stage, he’s attacked Republicans who’ve done nothing but praise him in the past. He has gone after the religious views of some and he’s lied about issues dealing with immigration.


Buttigieg had the chance to keep the good faith some on the right initially gave him. He squandered that and how he’s being eaten by his own side. He gets to figure that out on his own.

Right now though, none of this is good for him and he’s going to look even more out of touch at the debate this week while things are burning down in his hometown.


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