Mayor Pete Buttigieg branded a 'traitor' and heckled during town hall meeting after South Bend police shooting
Many residents in the region have expressed their frustration at Buttigieg for not taking immediate action in the case, and several others have even accused him of siding with the police
South Bend Mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg was heckled on Sunday, June 23, when he convened a town hall meeting in an attempt to address the concerns of his constituents over burgeoning tensions between the community and the South Bend Police Department in Indiana.
A heckler at the town hall called Buttigieg a "traitor" during a live broadcast event, which was held a week after a South Bend police officer shot and killed a 54-year-old black man. The South Bend mayor appeared rattled when others in the audience continued to interrupt Buttigieg as he spoke on stage, with many shouting rude comments and profanities at him.
Many residents in the region have expressed their frustration at Buttigieg for not taking immediate action in the case, and several others have even accused him of siding with the police. The state government's website had called the town hall an event to "outline the process for officer-involved shooting investigations and hearings before the Board of Public Safety".
Considering the severity of the incident in his town, the presidential hopeful had temporarily called off his campaign-related appearances, which caused him to miss multiple high profile events in Hollywood, New York, and South Carolina. The mayor had halted his campaign to speak with his constituents and address the current unrest in the town.
Buttigieg, during the town hall, called the fallout between the police department and the community "very challenging".
The mayor, at the age of 37, is the youngest among the 24 presidential candidates running in the Democratic party. He is openly gay and is married to husband Chasten.
Buttigieg participated in a march on Friday, June 21, night held in front of the police headquarters, which was attended by over 100 demonstrators, including the mother and brother of the man shot and killed by Sgt. Ryan O'Neill.
South Bend Police Sgt. Ryan O’Neill, a 19-year veteran of the department, shot and killed Eric J. Logan while he was responding to reports of car break-ins. According to prosecutor Ken Cotter, O’Neill has alleged that Logan was carrying a knife and repeatedly refused demands to drop it. It was then that the officer said he fired two shots as Logan approached him. The shots struck Logan in the abdomen, who died later at the hospital.
Reports state that O'Neill and Logan were the only witnesses of the shooting and that the officer did not have his body camera on during the incident. The officer has been placed on a paid administrative leave.
During the Friday demonstration, one of the protesters suggested that black people would not vote for the South Bend mayor: "You're running for president and you want black people to vote for you? That's not going to happen," South Bend Tribune reported.
Born near the beginning of the millennial generation in 1982, Buttigieg is a Harvard graduate who won a Rhodes scholarship to further study philosophy, politics, and economy at Oxford. Son of a Maltese immigrant father, the intellectual went on to work as a consultant at McKinsey and Company, a management strategy consulting firm, and later enlisted in the military — as a gay man — in 2009 even before the discriminatory law "don't ask, don't tell" was repealed. Buttigieg, in 2011, was elected as the Mayor of South Bend at the age of 29 — the youngest mayor of an American city with at least 100,000 residents.
The devout Christian, who can speak seven different languages, formally announced his candidacy on April 14 and presented a progressive message directed towards millennials, saying "we can't look for greatness in the past". The Harvard and Oxford-educated 37-year-old's signature policy is to do away with the electoral college in the American political system and to radically overhaul the Supreme Court.