Speaking to voters in Iowa during an Independence Day event, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg clapped back at an attendee for making a racially-charged comment about black Americans.
Due to the recent police shooting of an African American man in his hometown, Mayor Pete has encountered questions and scrutiny on matters related to race on the campaign trail.
“Mayor Pete, there has been some controversy in South Bend between the police and the black community, and I have a solution for you, and I’d like you to make a comment on my proposal,” said a man who later identified himself as Dave Begley. “Just tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs.”
After a pause in the crowd, Begley was roundly booed as Buttigieg shook his head before responding, “Sir, I think racism is not going to help us get out of this drama.”
“No, no, just stop committing crimes,” insisted Begley. “It has nothing to do with race.”
p.s. when the subject of your suggestion is “black people,” the issue has intrinsically turned to race.
“The fact that a black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated as a white person for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism,” Buttigieg told Begley, as the crowd applauded. “It is evidence of systemic racism.”
“And, with all due respect sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job, too,” added the Democratic presidential contender. “It is a smear on law enforcement.”
As chants of “USA, USA” began, Mayor Pete stared the man down before continuing, “Sir, when black people and white people are treated the same by the criminal justice system, it will be easier for white people and black people to live in this country.”
“And it will be easier for law enforcement to do their job,” he added. “But racism has no place in American politics, or in American law enforcement.”
Politico reports that Begley spent the rest of the event looking at his phone.
Begley later told reporters he is not a member of the Carroll County Democratic Party, but he attended the event as a writer for a conservative blog, Power Line. According to the website, he is a practicing attorney in Omaha, Nebraska.
Saying he planned to file a “full report on this,” Begley insisted that he didn’t believe his comment was racist and said he “resented” Buttigieg’s response.
Begley told reporters after the question-and-answer session said he resented Buttigieg’s response. Begley said he didn’t think his comment was racist.
“I just urged him, in order to resolve the racial controversy in South Bend, to urge the blacks in South Bend to obey the law so they’re not going to have confrontations with the police,” said Begley. “And he dismissed me as a racist, which I resented, and he knows he’s wrong.”
Watch the confrontation below.