South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) said during the second round of 2020 Democrat primary debates in Detroit, Michigan, that the “racial divide” within the United States “lives within me.”
“As an urban mayor serving a diverse community, the racial divide lives within me,” Buttigieg replied when asked by CNN moderators how he aims to appeal to African American voters.
Buttigieg’s awkward comment comes as the mayor faces heavy criticism back home over the fatal shooting of a black man killed by a white police officer. Earlier this month, Buttigieg said he would ask the city’s Board of Public Safety to conduct a “community-oriented” review of officers’ use of deadly force, body cameras and suspect pursuit policies.
He promised to implement any resulting policy changes during a meeting Monday of South Bend’s Common Council.
Buttigieg also gave the council an update on his administration’s response to the June 16 fatal shooting of Eric Logan by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill.
A judge has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate the shooting and decide whether criminal charges against O’Neill are warranted. The local Fraternal Order of Police claims Buttigieg is prejudging O’Neill for political gain.
Despite Buttigieg’s best efforts to court the African-American community, the South Bend mayor is polling at zero percent with the group.
“Pete has a black problem. I don’t know of one black person out of Indiana that supports him,” Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) told the Daily Beast last month. In another interview conducted by the media outlet, an unnamed “prominent black leader” said that when he pressed Buttigieg on which black South Bend activists support him, the mayor was unable to name anyone.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.