South Bend Official Criticizes Pete Buttigieg for Blocking Release of Secret Police Race Tapes

Democratic presidential candidate former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg arrives to speak at the McIntyre-Shaheen 100 Club Dinner, Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
AP Photo/Matt Rourke

A South Bend Councilman criticized Pete Buttigieg after the former mayor stumbled under pressure on his record of race relations during the Democrat debate on Friday.

“As a Councilman in South Bend, I know why Pete Buttigieg looked like a deer in headlights last night when talking about systemic racism in the South Bend Police,” South Bend Councilman Henry Davis Jr. wrote on Twitter. “He tolerated it, he perpetuated it, and last night he lied to millions of Americans about it.”

Davis Jr. criticized Buttigieg for blocking the release of secret tapes recorded by the former black police chief of South Bend Darryl Boykins to expose racism in the department.

“Myself and other Council members SUED PETE for the release of SECRET TAPES exposing racism in the South Bend police and a (successful) conspiracy to get Pete to fire the first Black police chief,” he wrote. “Pete pulled every legal trick possible to keep these secret.”

The South Bend Common Council has fought to release the tapes while Buttigieg and the city refused to turn them over to the council, arguing that they could have been illegally recorded. A St. Joseph County judge ruled Monday that the tapes could legally be released, but that ruling will likely be appealed in a higher court.

Boykins and a city official were forced out by Buttigieg for taping the conversations after the mayor learned the police chief was being investigated by the FBI.

Davis Jr. described Buttigieg’s time as mayor as rife with “rampant systemic racism.”

Buttigieg struggled during the ABC News presidential primary debate on Friday after debate moderator Linsey Davis challenged him on the rise in racial disparity of drug arrests.

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace returned to the subject, during an interview with Buttigieg on Sunday.

The South Bend mayor admitted that the racial disparity for drug arrests continued to exist but cited his interest in decriminalizing drug possession as a way to eliminate the problem.

“Look, we have seen time and time again, racial disparities in the enforcement, not just of drug laws, but across the criminal legal system and we need reform,” he said. “No one mayor is going to be able to resolve it.”

NBC News anchor Chuck Todd questioned Buttigieg about Davis Jr.’s criticism in an interview on Meet the Press.

The former South Bend mayor dismissed the criticism, noting that Davis Jr. challenged him for mayor in 2015.

“He was one of my political rivals throughout my time as mayor,” he said. “He ran for mayor, and I think he came in fifth.”

Buttigieg challenged his fellow Democrat rivals as being part of the problem with systemic racism.

“I will stack up my record against anybody else who is running for president, all of whom are implicated and the realities that our country faces, especially when it comes to racial and economic inequality,” he concluded.

Those tapes remain secret as Davis Jr. and others have sued to release them.

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