Black Lives Matter is calling for South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg to resign. Their request comes more than two months after the officer-involved shooting death of car break-in suspect Eric Logan in June. Black Lives Matter has previously called for South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski to resign, as well.
The group issued the following statement in making their request:
In the U.S. one out of every 1,000 black men will die at the hands of the police. Police violence is thus one of the leading causes of death for black men. These are facts. But in the United States, police violence towards black men and other people of color has never been treated as a crisis. Today, this includes South Bend, Indiana.
Pete Buttigieg, it is beyond question that relations between the police department and communities of color have not been good at any time during your tenure. And while you moved earth and mountain for some in the city to prosper, you only responded to those impacted by police violence and oppression with your Douglass Plan, an initiative for economic empowerment in communities of color that has yet to be enacted locally.
Nevertheless, it is a plan that is out of step with reality as it ignores the fact that lasting economic empowerment cannot be built within an atmosphere of hostility and distrust.
Pete Buttigieg, you have claimed to be an ally to people of color but you have not acted like one. You have made promises that you have not kept. One of these concerned you making public the data compiled on racial bias in the South Bend Police Department. This could have been an important start towards real change and you have failed to take the first step. You have squandered the opportunity to use your platform to bring change for us. You have seen the deficiencies and community abuse by your police department but have cowered to those in power. You have made South Bend another place where violence against people of color is treated with pleasing words and optics and where justice is mocked. With your inaction, you have sent the message very clearly: it is okay to oppress people of color in this town.
When you were compelled to respond to the death of our brother Eric Logan, you did so with a series of Community Advisory Meetings that the people know are nothing more than a checkbox. You invited the grieving to sit down next to police officers brandishing guns, “open-carry” style. The scenarios create a conversation that causes people to care more about the police, rather than the community in pain. No wonder these meetings are hardly attended: because they were not meant to solve our problems. Everyone knows that no meaningful policy change or accountability structure will be enacted. We know you don’t care, because you do not even come. So now, as the country marvels at your so-called empathy, we prepare ourselves to hear the tired platitudes of city administrators, “why is there a lack of community involvement?”
Since the killing of Eric Logan by one of your police officers, you have seen his public memorial defaced — you said nothing. The Logan family and the black community in South Bend was terrorized with the torching of Eric Logan’s mother’s car — you said nothing. What is it going to take for you to recognize that we are under attack and that we too are part of South Bend?
Pete Buttigieg, when you were questioned on national TV about the failures of policing in South Bend you said “I couldn’t get it done,” and presented yourself as someone that recognized this very real problem in our society. Now it is clear that you tokenized the name of Eric Logan along with Fredrick Douglass in front of this country to promote an image of you, just as you have transformed the name “South Bend” into a token of your greatness. You have not represented us genuinely, but rather used your civic post to represent yourself and advance your interests. We know what it means for a politician to say that “all lives matter” even as the oppression of black men and women is commonplace.
Pete Buttigieg, you were quick to inform the press that you would return from your presidential campaigning to respond to this tragedy, knowing that you’d be followed by their cameras. But when you met with representatives of our community, you transformed your excuse of “I couldn’t get it done” into an explicit “I won’t get it done.” You purposely skirt any notion that someone should be held accountable for an unwarranted death caused by your police department. We needed from you a willingness to work towards change, but you and your administration only came with expectations for us: to suppress our pain, to not make a scene.
Pete Buttigieg, you privilege policy over people. And because state policies disproportionately, negatively affect black people, you privilege white supremacy. Your brand of white supremacy reeks of good feelings and altruism, which differs from Trump’s brand that reeks of resentment… but it’s white supremacy nonetheless.
Pete Buttigieg, you are complicit in the violence against all people of color by turning our cry against “structural racism” into your excuse for doing nothing. You are complicit in disrespecting our people and our history by expecting a grieving, black community to do the heavy lifting of resolving the city’s issues while you hold the status quo. You are complicit in the violence perpetrated against black persons by not holding yourself, the Chief of Police, or the Board of Public Safety accountable.
To this day, we are frustrated from being ignored, being misinformed, and used by you and your administration. It is clear that you want silence, space, and are biding time, but we will not give it to you, because our righteous anger speaks the truth and that truth cannot be bent. We will continue to fight your brand of power and white supremacy, because in the words of an abolitionist you supposedly know well: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” – Fredrick Douglass