A Black Democrat says South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg “has a black problem.”
“Pete has a black problem,” said Fudge, who is the former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I don’t know of one black person out of Indiana that supports him.”
The sentiments of the comments were echoed by someone the Daily Beast described as a prominent Black leader who wished to remain anonymous. Speaking to the Daily Beast, he said he had a private meeting with Buttigieg and said the South Bend mayor’ recent communications with the black community have been “naïve.” He noted that while Buttigieg is seen as “genuine and authentic” nationwide, it was not the case when it came to the worries of Black residents.
Describing the meeting, the leader says he asked Buttigieg, who in the African-American community back home supports you?
“He didn’t name anybody,” the leader recalled. “If he’s got young black supporters, they do have names.”
Headlines were made over the weekend after Buttigieg paused his travels along the presidential campaign trail when he returned to South Bend Friday. There to attend a town hall, he was confronted by protesters who wanted answers over the police shooting death of a Black man there earlier this month.
Eric Logan was shot and killed by South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, who is white. According to CBS News, prosecutors said O’Neill was responding to a call of a man breaking into vehicles when he ran into Logan in a parking lot. Claiming Logan approached him with a knife, the sergeant shot him in the stomach after Logan allegedly refused to drop the knife when commanded to do so. O’Neill’s body camera was not on during the incident.
With the event on their minds, protesters Friday night openly spewed their feelings at Buttigieg.
“You are truly running for president and you want black people to vote for you. You [are] running for president and you want black people to vote for you — that’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen. That’s not going to happen,” one woman said.
“Ma’am, I’m not asking for your vote,” Buttigieg replied.
After being filled in on his remarks, Fudge said the mayor displayed a sense of “arrogance” and “entitlement.”
CBS News reported the mayor promised the crowd an independent review will be conducted to ensure there is no racism in the police department.
Meanwhile, the anonymous Black leader said Buttigieg’s answers surrounding the level of support from Black people were met with more questions about his commitment to the Black community.
“He left me with the impression that he had not thought about getting individuals to endorse him and that he would go back and do that,” the leader said.
However, the presidential hopeful’s camp disputed the anonymous Black leader’s account of their private meeting, which the leader said was held at Buttigieg’s request and lasted “well over an hour.”
“Pete has spent years building and fostering a diverse coalition, including leaders in the city’s black community and other minority communities, faith leaders, small-business owners, and his mayoral administration—to tackle systemic inequality and distrust in the city,” they said.
The campaign has yet to issue a public response to Fudge’s remarks.