“One thing that I want you to know is that we’re serious about fixing this,” he told the group gathered for the evening march.
But tempers flared at the 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, who skipped scheduled campaign stops in order to return to South Bend on Friday and meet with community members. The shooting has shaken the city over the last week.
“You running for president and you want black people to support you, and vote for you,” one incensed community member told Buttigieg. “That’s not going to happen!”
“I’m not asking for your vote,” Buttigieg told the resident in response. “I will promise that there will be a review to make sure that there is no racism on this department.”
An officer shot and killed a man early Sunday after police received a call that someone was breaking into cars, according to the County Metro Homicide Unit.
“The South Bend Police Department … engaged a subject who was partially in a vehicle in the Central High School Apartments parking lot,” a statement from the homicide unit said. “The subject exited the vehicle and approached the officer with a knife raised. The officer reportedly discharged his service weapon, striking the subject.”
The man — who was later identified by the unit as Eric Jack Logan of South Bend — was transported to a hospital in critical condition and later died. Buttigieg announced on Sunday night that the officer was put on administrative leave while the incident is investigated.
On Friday, Some of the fiercest criticism at the march came from Logan’s mother, South Bend resident Shirley Newbill, who told Buttigieg that she’s “been here all my life” and officials have not done a “thing about me or my son, or none of these people put here.”
“It’s time for you to do something … I’m tired of talking now … and I’m tired of hearing your lies,” Newbill told Buttigieg.
The loosely organized protest became chaotic at times, with Black Lives Matter protesters speaking over Buttigieg and South Bend Police Chief Scott Ruszkowski. It prompted one of Logan’s brothers to interrupt protesters and defend Ruszkowski, saying, “This man, 100%, I’ve been riding with this man since day one. I’m going to believe in this man, because he’s always got my back no matter what.”
Buttigieg, for his part, made an appeal to residents who gathered following the march.
“There will be more steps to change what is happening in this community, so that the people of this community have confidence in their policing, and in the society around it,” Buttigieg promised. “We’re not going to fix it — we can’t, I can’t, I can’t promise you that — but we can work together, from body cameras to the rules that decide how force is used.”
The mayor went on to solicit community input in a town hall meeting slated for Sunday afternoon.
“We’re not going to make promises we can’t keep. We’re not. But I will do everything I can if we work together to make improvements,” Buttigieg said. “We gotta fix this in our lifetime. If we don’t, America will fail in our lifetime.”
“And so as long as I am mayor, I will listen,” he pledged. “And so long as I live, I will work on this. Because this is my community too. And shame on all of us if we don’t make it better.”