By Marina Pitofsky, The Hill
2020 presidential hopeful and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) called out a man at an Independence Day campaign stop in Iowa who suggested the Black residents of his hometown “stop committing crimes and doing drugs.”
“Sir, I think that racism is not going to help us get out of this,” Buttigieg responded Thursday when the man made the suggestion at a campaign stop with the Carroll County Democrats.
The man said his comment had “nothing to do with race” after being booed by the crowd, but Buttigieg responded by arguing that the difference in arrest rates between Black and white Americans is evidence of “systemic racism.”
“The fact that a Black person is four times as likely as a white person to be incarcerated for the exact same crime is evidence of systemic racism,” Buttigieg said.
ABC News was among those that tweeted a video of the exchange.
Buttigieg added that racism exacerbates relations between law enforcement and communities.
“It is evidence if systemic racism, and with all due respect, sir, racism makes it harder for good police officers to do their job, too. It is a smear on law enforcement,” Buttigieg said.
The mayor has come under fire for his leadership on police brutality issues after a Black man was shot last month in South Bend by a law enforcement officer whose body camera was not on. Buttigieg, who has struggled to connect with Black voters, took heat over the incident during the first Democratic presidential debate last week.
Buttigieg had called for a special investigation of the incident, and, on Wednesday, an Indiana judge appointed a special prosecutor to the case.
The Buttigieg campaign confirmed the incident to The Hill but declined to comment further.
This article originally appeared in The Hill.