You can take Buttigieg out of South Bend, but you can’t take South Bend’s Black Lives Matter chapter out of Buttigieg’s campaign trail.
According to the Los Angeles Times, when Democratic presidential candidate and former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg visited a homeless shelter in Watts, California, on Friday morning, he was greeted on the sidewalk outside and heckled by about a dozen BLM protesters, some from his home town, who loudly denounced him as “anti-black and anti-poor.”
At least three of the protesters had traveled from South Bend to confront Buttigieg’s handling of South Bend’s homelessness problem and, especially, on the recent death of Anthony Young, a 44-year-old man who, according to local news reports, died of hypothermia outside on a downtown path in December, while the former mayor was still in office.
“We haven’t seen Mayor Pete in a while. I’m surprised he’s here at a shelter [in Los Angeles] and not in South Bend at a shelter. We miss his face,” Kahmiil Middleton, 22, of South Bend said in an interview. She continued, criticizing Buttigieg for not returning to South Bend last month to address Young’s death. “We understand that he’s campaigning, but when you’re mayor, you have a job to do. He did not make that his priority,” she said.
Buttigieg’s claim to reporters, according to the LA Times, was that Young had died “after declining to come into a shelter.” While addressing staff at the LA shelter, he added, “perhaps you’ve had the experience of asking somebody to come in and they’ve not been willing or able to do it.”
Buttigieg’s campaign defended his record on homelessness and expanding shelter access in South Bend, citing federal statistics showing that homelessness had declined by a quarter in the greater South Bend area while he was in office. But many remain unconvinced, and Middleton, along with fellow South Bend protesters Anthony Thomson and Katheryn Redding, have vowed to follow him on his campaign and continue to press him on homelessness and other issues such as police misconduct.
“Wherever he goes, we’ll go, because we don’t want to be forgotten,” Middleton said to reporters. And Redding claimed the trio was getting help in their efforts saying that “there was an organization that paid for us to come.”
“I was told not to release that information,” Redding told the Times when asked who was funding their travels. She described the source as “another revolutionary group” and not another presidential campaign. “It wasn’t presidentially paid for at all, or anyone that’s running.” Redding later identified Black Lives Matter South Bend as the group that funds them.
It’s worth mentioning that the organization isn’t only coming for Buttigieg over the issue of homelessness, but over police violence as well. According to a statement to The Root from BLM South Bend:
Mayor Pete’s neglect after the recent shooting of #EricLogan by South Bend police led to a special prosecutor and federal civil rights suit. Both still pending: Associated Press: “Probe of Eric Logan shooting could revive scrutiny of Buttigieg”Huff Post: “Logan’s family sued the city of South Bend, led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg...The lawsuit alleges excessive deadly force in the ‘shooting death of an African American, 54-year-old father of seven … by a white South Bend police officer.’” The family “alleged the officer shot Logan while he was walking to his mother’s home after a family gathering.“Associated Press: “The issue could resurface as the prosecutor leading an investigation into the matter says his work likely won’t be finished before February, just as voters begin deciding whether Buttigieg should be the Democratic nominee...Buttigieg stepped away from the campaign trail and faced angry residents at an emotional town hall in South Bend...He acknowledged that his administration had failed to recruit more minority police officers and utilize police body cameras.”
The group planned to hand out “educational information” to people as they went into Bittigieg’s LA fundraiser on Friday. The educational material “will underscore Pete’s record of systemic racism in South Bend.”