Mayor Pete Buttigieg seemed destined to escape the provincial orbit of his political life in South Bend, Indiana, when his opponents in the Democrat nomination process finally figured out a way to score points against him: A white police officer back in his home city had shot a black suspect purportedly armed with a knife while his body camera was off.
This led to predictable triangulations. Before his exit from the race due to generating not even the slightest amount of interest, Rep. Eric Swalwell of California suggested that Buttigieg should fire the police chief without even conducting an investigation.
Most politicians weren’t willing to go that far, but back in Indiana, there were plenty of former South Bend officials and current activists calling for his resignation.
So, Buttigieg did what any good Democrat nominee in 2019 would do and tracked to the left, more or less abandoning the police to their own devices and insinuating they were racist. Then the police revolted, so he bought them pizza.
No, really. This is a guy running for president of the United States, too.
“Last week, while Mayor Buttigieg continued to run a presidential campaign in which he often falsely implies that South Bend police officers are racist, he refused to apologize,” Harvey Mills, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #36, said in a video released Friday.
“Our officers are brave men and women who put their lives on the line for the community each day. We ask that instead of delivering pizza, the mayor deliver some respect for what police officers do and drop the politics.”
I mean, at least the pizza was apparently from South Bend fixture Bruno’s and not from, say, Domino’s or something. If you’re going to do something crass and embarrassing, at least insert a little local class into the act.
So, in case you haven’t been following this all: 54-year-old Eric Logan was shot and killed by Sgt. Ryan O’Neill in June while O’Neill’s body camera was off.
Logan, an African-American man, allegedly had a hunting knife and was coming at police. He also had an active felony warrant out for his arrest and could have gone back to jail for years if police had taken him into custody.
Meanwhile, community activists have claimed the body camera being turned off — combined with allegations of racism made against O’Neill in the distant past — indicated O’Neill was the guilty party.
Mayor Pete tracked toward placating the community: “We obviously know we haven’t done nearly enough because we have a long way to go when it comes to trust in this community,” Buttigieg said. “We need to engage our board of public safety for a process that will invite community members to not only learn about but shape many of the policies that guide our department.”
Buttigieg had also previously said that “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,” according to Fox News.
Buttigieg’s comments didn’t make police happy.
“Police are taught to treat a knife as a deadly weapon, because a suspect armed with a knife within 21-feet of an officer is as much of a deadly threat as a suspect with a gun,” Mills said in a media release.
“In this case, the suspect armed with an eight-inch hunting knife was less than 10 feet from the officer and refused multiple commands to drop the weapon. In light of self-defense law and police training, this shooting was completely justified.”
Mills continued: “Mayor Buttigieg swore an oath to ‘faithfully, impartially, and diligently discharge the duties of the office of mayor’ of South Bend but he’s been faithful only to his political interests, has not been impartial about this incident, and has diligently used this to advance his presidential campaign.”
“If he wants to honor the oath he took, Mayor Buttigieg will recuse himself from this matter by taking no part in any decisions, conversations, or other aspects of it.”
The way to deal with this was, um, pizza. Because sure, why not? I guess cops are like ninja turtles and that smooths over everything, including throwing them under the bus.
Of course, the activists who gathered to watch the police being thrown under the bus probably aren’t too happy that they got some pizza after they got run over, which means we’ll probably hear carping from that side of the aisle, too.
In short, there’s not really much Buttigieg could have done to appease everybody here, so why bother trying?
Either he’s on the side of community activists or on the side of the police. He’s paying meaningless lip service to one and delivering pizza to the other in place of an apology. It’s time for him to recuse himself from the investigation and let his community heal — as well as let America know just how badly he blew this one.
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