Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, who is running for the 2020 Democrat presidential nomination, has come under fire from his city’s police union due to comments he made in the wake of a highly publicized officer-involved shooting.
The controversy stems from a June 16 incident in which South Bend Police Department Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, who is white, shot and killed a 54-year-old black man, Eric Logan, who was allegedly breaking into cars and is accused of threatening O’Neill with a knife prior to being shot, according to the Washington Examiner.
In the aftermath of that incident, Buttigieg called for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the shooting and said he wanted the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to look into it as well, Fox News reported.
He also addressed the shooting in a campaign email to supporters.
“While the case is still being investigated, we do know this: a South Bend family is enduring the crushing and inconsolable anguish that far too many Black and Latino families across the country have shared,” the mayor wrote, as The Hill noted.
“Our city, and our nation, demands answers about the dynamic between our police officers and the communities they are sworn to protect.”
“All police work and all of American life takes place in the shadow of racism, which hurts everyone and everything it touches. Historic racism, present-day racism, and generational racism — they all secrete a kind of poison into the bloodstream of this country,” the email added.
It was that last quote in particular that drew the ire of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #36.
In a news release posted to Facebook on Monday, the police union blasted Buttigieg for worrying more about “his political gain” than the city he leads.
“Mayor Buttigieg’s focus on this incident is solely for his political gain and not the health of the city he serves,” the letter reads.
“Mayor Buttigieg’s comments have already and will continue to have a detrimental effect on local law enforcement officers and law enforcement officers nationwide,” it added. “Mayor Buttigieg’s comments and actions are driving a wedge between law enforcement officers and the community they took an oath to serve.”
The union also expressed support for O’Neill, whose body camera was turned off at the time of the shooting and who has since been placed on administrative leave, according to CNN.
After the shooting, Buttigieg canceled several campaign events.
He returned to South Bend on Sunday for a town hall event, where he faced plenty of angry residents who criticized him over the state of community-police relations in the city during his tenure as mayor.
Following that event, Buttigieg sent another email to supporters to address what happened at the town hall.
“It was a painful but needed conversation,” he wrote Monday, according to the South Bend Tribune.
“And I feel overwhelmed and heartened by the number of people — supporters and critics — who have reached out and made it clear over the past week that they want to join hands and face these problems together,” Buttigieg added.
“I will be working with my team and community to build on what we have done together over the past few years. It is clear we need to implement bolder and more aggressive actions moving forward.”
That wasn’t good enough for the police union.
“In a short time, Mayor Buttigieg will no longer be the leader of this great city. However, the South Bend Police Department and the residents of South Bend will still be here. If we are to grow and change for the better, it will require us to set political agendas aside and simply come together,” the union’s letter read.
The union has criticized Buttigieg in the past as well.
Following an alleged officer-involved incident of excessive force, then-FOP president Dan Demler claimed in 2017 that Buttigieg wasn’t doing enough to defend officers when they faced criticism.
“The narrative has been put out there that we can’t be trusted,” Demler said at the time, according to the Tribune.
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