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Pete Buttigieg rebuked man in Iowa who said 'tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs'

Business Insider | Jul 5, 2019, 03.52AM IST

pete buttigieg
  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg shut down a man at an event in Iowa, after the man suggested he "tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs."
  • Buttigieg has been caught in a roiling controversy in South Bend over the recent fatal shooting of Eric Logan, a black man, at the hands of a police officer.
  • "Sir, I think that racism is not going to help us get out of this," Buttigieg responded, before explaining that black people are disproportionately incarcerated for crimes white people commit as well.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, rebuffed a man at an Iowa campaign event who used crude racial stereotypes to propose a solution for the racial tensions plaguing Buttigieg's hometown.

Buttigieg has been caught in a roiling controversy in South Bend over the recent police shooting of Eric Logan, a black man, and whether Buttigieg has adequately handled issues of racial bias and excessive force in his police department.

Authorities have said that Logan wielded a large knife when confronted by the officer. But the officer who killed Logan, Sgt. Ryan O'Neill, did not have his body camera turned on at the time.

Read more: 'Fire your cops': Mayor Pete Buttigieg faced with angry protesters as he skips presidential campaign events after a police shooting in his hometown

At the Carroll County Democratic Party barbecue in Iowa on Thursday, the man who spoke to Buttigieg appeared to weigh in on the issue by blaming South Bend's African-American population.

"I have a solution for you, and I'd like you to make a comment on my proposal," the man began. "Just tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs."

The remark prompted a few chuckles before he was drowned out by loud boos.

"Sir, I think that racism is not going to help us get out of this," Buttigieg responded.

 

"No no no, just stop committing crimes. It has nothing to do with race," the man said.

Buttigieg shut down the man by explaining that black residents are far more likely to be arrested, prosecuted, and punished than their white counterparts who commit the same crimes.

"The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism. It is evidence of systemic racism," he said. "With all due respect, sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their jobs too. It is a smear on law enforcement."

Read more: Pete Buttigieg says South Bend is a 'mess' after police shooting of a black man and that the police force isn't more racially diverse because he 'couldn't get it done'

pete buttigieg

Buttigieg was likely referring to the commonly cited statistic that black people are 3.73 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana offenses - despite usage rates being roughly equal among both races.

African-Americans are also 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated as white people, and are disproportionately more likely to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, according to The Sentencing Project.

The man who asked Buttigieg the question was identified by media outlets as Dave Begley, who writes for a conservative blog and was not a member of the Carroll County Democratic Party, according to Politico.

Begley told reporters he didn't like Buttigieg's response, and that he didn't believe his comment was racist.

"I just urged him in order to resolve the racial controversy in South Bend, is to urge the blacks in South Bend to obey the law so they're not going to have confrontations with the police, and he dismissed me as a racist which I resented and he knows he's wrong," Begley said.

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