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Pete Buttigieg finally addressed controversy surrounding taped police calls

Pete Buttigieg finally addressed controversy surrounding taped police calls

Pete Buttigieg

Speaking at the CNN Town Hall event earlier this week (22 April), Pete Buttigieg addressed a six-year long controversy around a fired black police chief.

Between outlining his policy pledges, attendees grilled the South Bend mayor over his demotion of the city’s former police chief, who is black, in 2012, CNN reported.

The panel in New Hampshire, New England, gave an insight into Buttigieg’s policy vision. But not everyone is happy about what he said.

What happened?

Buttigieg had been mayor for just 13 weeks in 2012 when he faced a leadership crisis.

The 29-year-old fired Darryl Boykins, South Bend’s first black police chief. Buttigieg demoted him just days before a mass protest against the killing of black teenager, Trayvon Martin.

Boykins’ removal released a blizzard of claims, counterclaims, and lawsuits. Especially as Boykins improperly recorded white officers allegedly making racist remarks against him.

The controversy shook South Bend’s police force, but Buttigieg refused to make the tapes public. Stating that it would be inappropriate to do so unless a judge allows it.

No action was taken against the officers accused. Precisely what they said on the tapes of their department phone calls is unknown seven years on.

What did Buttigieg say?

However, as voters take a closer look at Buttigieg’s record, there has been a heightened scrutiny over this episode.

A student quizzed the candidate over what exactly were on the tapes. In the past, Buttigieg said he removed Boykins because he lost faith in him for conducting the illegal wiretaps on other police officers, not for his race.

However, Boykins has long denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the tapes were inadvertently made as part of a longstanding practice of recording certain phone lines.

But the mayor clarified that he hasn’t even listened to the tapes because they may have violated federal wiretapping laws.

Moreover, the episode showed him that the central issue was South Bend citizens – 37% of whom are black and/or Latino – heavily distrust the police.

‘I was, frankly, a little slow to understand just how much anguish underlay the community’s response,’ Buttigieg said.

‘It wasn’t just about whether we were right or wrong to be concerned about the federal wiretap act, it was about whether communities of color could trust that communities had their best interest at heart.

‘The more I realized lifting the veil of mistrust between communities of color and our police department had to be one of my top priorities as mayor.’

‘An obstacle he will have to overcome’

Held in a once-derelict Studebaker auto plant in South Bend, now sheathed in high-tech glass and a home to bustling businesses, Buttigieg kicked off his presidential campaign this month.

Swathes of people showed their support in what became a symbolic rebuttal to critics of Buttigieg.

But there were few people of color at the rally. Former Democrat consultant David Axelrod noted in a Tweet: ‘Crowd seems very large, very impressive but also very white.

‘An obstacle he will have to overcome.’

See also

Presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg met his husband on Hinge

Pete Buttigieg said he wouldn’t let prisoners vote and LGBTIs aren’t happy

Trump admin’s gay, US ambassador compares Pete Buttigieg to Jussie Smollett