South Bend, Indiana Mayor and Democratic Presidential candidate, Pete Buttigieg, attended a town hall on Sunday that devolved into total chaos – likely bad news for the mayor’s presidential campaign.
The town hall went off the rails when Buttigieg got into the recent shooting of 54-year-old Eric Logan, a black man, by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, a white police officer, in South Bend.
Attendees shouted their concerns and their disappointment at city officials for not taking swifter action to address the strained relationship between the police department and the black community. Buttigieg noted the complex relationship between minorities and police extends beyond the incident that occurred on June 16.
“There is a lot beneath the surface when it comes to trust and legitimacy around policing and race in our city,” the South Bend mayor said.
Buttigieg told attendees that the city has made progress in regard to the promotion process, raising police discipline standards and increasing public data online. Buttigieg said that he will send a letter to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to look into the city’s police department.
However, Buttigieg also acknowledged he has failed to diversify the police department and ensure that body cameras are activated when officers encounter civilians. O’Neill’s body camera reportedly wasn’t activated during last Sunday’s incident.
“As the mayor of the city, I want to acknowledge that those last two lines of effort, the effort to recruit more minority officers to the police department and the effort to introduce body cameras, have not succeeded,” he said. “And I accept responsibility for that.”
In the question-and-answer portion of the town hall, one audience member told Buttigieg to reorganize his department by Friday of next week to “get the racists off the streets,” in reference to law enforcement officers.
Buttigieg responded to shouts from the crowd, “I will say that if anyone who is on patrol is shown to be a racist, or to do something racist in a way that is substantiated, that is their last day on the street.”