Mayor Pete Buttigieg left the campaign trail again over the weekend to face constituents in South Bend outraged over the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer.
According to the South Bend Tribune, Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, a white officer, shot Eric Logan, an African-American man, in the parking lot of an apartment complex responding to a call that someone was breaking in to vehicles. According to O’Neill, he discovered Logan with his legs halfway out of a vehicle. Upon approaching the vehicle, he says Logan lunged at him with a raised knife. The officer shot Logan twice in the abdomen. He was transported to the hospital in a police car. The officer’s body camera was not on, nor was the cruiser’s dash cam, because O’Neill had not activated his emergency lights.
Buttigieg has been criticized for not bringing enough diversity to the police force in South Bend. In remarks over the weekend, he admitted that the city’s body camera initiative had failed.
The South Bend Tribune reports: ‘Many made sure their voices were heard, often shouting over the mayor’s answers, calling him a liar or demanding that Ruszkowski be fired. When the crowd was asked to hold its anger, Komaneach Wheeler stood up and shouted “A mother of injustice cannot hold her anger!” Some of the questions were pointed squarely at Buttigieg, whose run for president has put the Logan shooting and ensuing reaction in the national spotlight. “How can we trust this process?” Blu Casey, a local activist, asked the mayor. “How are we supposed to trust you?” Buttigieg at one point admitted that he had failed to bring greater diversity to the Police Department, where 5% of the officers are African-American, though he said it wasn’t for a lack of effort as he mentioned some initiatives the city undertook or is exploring.’
Said Buttigieg after the event: “You can sense the pain not only around this incident … and not only around our city but what’s happening everywhere, when it comes to the disempowerment that so many black Americans have felt in relation to the police. When you lead a city and it’s hurting, you take that on board all the time, but you especially take that on board at a time like this.”
“This problem has to get solved in my lifetime,” Buttigieg added. “I don’t know of a person or a city that has solved it, but I know that if we do not solve it in my lifetime, it will sink America. And if nothing else, I hope people know that I am motivated, not out of some theoretical concern or some political imperative, but as somebody whose city is hurting. What I hope African Americans watching this see is that our city is facing this. We’re not running away from it. This isn’t theoretical for us, this isn’t something being debated in Washington. This is our problem, as it is a problem in so many places. And we are on the front lines of it. And we’re doing everything we know how.”