In a Democratic debate featuring a number of big-name candidates, Mayor Pete Buttigeig of South Bend, Indiana, continued to face pointed questions about accusations of racism within the city’s predominantly white police force in the aftermath of a fatal police shooting of a black man.
NBC’s Rachel Maddow asked Buttigieg why South Bend has a disproportionately white police force. In response, Buttigieg addressed the fatal June 16 police shooting of 54-year-old Eric Logan.
South Bend is largely considered a segregated city where racial tensions ignited again after last week’s shooting.
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“My community is in anguish right now because of officer-involved shooting. A black man, Eric Logan, killed by a white officer. And I’m not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back,” the mayor known as Mayor Pete said.
The officer involved in the incident, who was reportedly not wearing a body camera, has claimed he was attacked with a knife.
“The officer says he was attacked with a knife but he didn’t have his body camera on. It’s a mess. And we’re hurting…And when I look into his mother’s eyes, I have to face the fact that nothing that I say can bring him back,” Buttigieg continued.
He went on to say he would commit to resolving racial inequality in the United States if elected president.
“I am determined to bring about a day when a white person driving a vehicle and a black person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing. A feeling not of fear but of safety,” Buttigieg said.
Pete Buttigieg has been the early darling of the 2020 Democratic presidential contest.
The South Bend mayor was immediately challenged on his statements by former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper and California Democratic representative Eric Salwell.
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“You’re the mayor. You should fire the chief,” Salwell said in response to Buttigieg’s statement that the officer’s required body camera was not turned on.
Also participating in this debate were former vice-president Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and California Sen. Kamala Harris. Other hotly-debated topics included health care, immigration, environmental policy and the generational divide in the Democratic party.