Pete Buttigieg, the gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., has been a rising star since he announced his potential presidential bid earlier this year. But an “all lives matter” comment Buttigieg made during an official speech in 2015 has raised questions about his record on race, and social media users have weighed in.
Buttigieg, who came out publicly during his reelection campaign in 2015 ahead of the Supreme Court’s decision on national marriage equality, made the “all lives matter” comment during his State of the City address that came under fire earlier this week.
As of Thursday morning, Buttigieg apologized for having used the "all lives matter" phrase as he was unaware of its loaded meaning at the time, reported Errin Haines Whack, who was tweeting Buttigieg's comments from an event for the civil rights organization the National Action Network.
In gaggle w/@PeteButtigieg, who addressed his use of “All Lives Matter” in 2015, he says he didn’t initially realize how phrase was used to devalue Black Lives Matter, adding; “Since learning about how that phrase was being used to push back on that activism, I stopped using it.”
— Errin Haines Whack (@emarvelous) April 4, 2019
Whack also tweeted about Buttigieg's other comments during his speech addressing issues including reparations.
Just heard from @PeteButtigieg addressing @NationalAction. Called for end to cash bail and death penalty, felon voter disenfranchisement. Said he’d sign HB40 to study reparations, which he said is “a conversation about justice between generations.”
— Errin Haines Whack (@emarvelous) April 4, 2019
Buttigieg's original comment was apparently made in reference to a pair of racially charged issues, according to CNBC. Buttigieg’s administration had refused to hand over recordings in a wiretap case that may have revealed South Bend police officers making racist comments and breaking the law, which the officers denied.
“There is no contradiction between respecting the risks that police officers take every day in order to protect this community and recognizing the need to overcome the biases implicit in a justice system that treats people from different backgrounds differently, even when they are accused of the same offenses,” Buttigieg said in the speech.
“We need to take both those things seriously, for the simple and profound reason that all lives matter,” he said.
His statement now finds itself under a microscope as the wide-field of candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination continue to court the nation. And while it came at a time prior to the slogan 'All Lives Matter' really hit its stride in 2016, it does give insight into his ambitions for bipartisan approaches on many issues — including policing.
"It’s time for South Bend to begin talking about racial reconciliation," he said right before this controversial statement, according to transcripts published by the South Bend Voice. "That means honest, frank discussions that allow city leaders, law enforcement, and community members to face the mistakes of the past and establish shared ground for the future."
Buttigieg went on to say that his hope for residents in the city was to heal from any anti-police sentiment they had because "we have every reason to be both pro-minority and pro-police, at the same time."
The 37-year-old, who surged in popularity ahead of candidates including Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Kirsten Gillibrand in a recent poll that placed him third behind Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, has said that the recordings that may have revealed police officers making racist comments were not released due to federal wiretapping laws. The officers involved in the case were awarded $500,000 in a lawsuit with the city.
Buttigieg addressed the wiretapping case and its subsequent fallout in his memoir Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.
“Overwhelming pressure mounted for me to disclose the recordings, especially from the African-American community,” Buttigieg wrote, according to CNBC.
He added that protesters picketed his first State of the City address, which “affected my relationship with the African-American community in particular for years to come.”
Here's how some on social media are responding to Buttigieg's use of "all lives matter."
So far he has run as a white working class centric candidate, so not surprising: Pete Buttigieg, on police controversy, said 'all lives matter' in 2015 https://t.co/Jt0Wpe2hoM
— Marcus H. Johnson (@marcushjohnson) April 3, 2019
I read Pete’s book - the term social justice warrior is a pejorative and it rubbed me the wrong way.
And ‘All Lives Matter’ is a non-starter. Can’t say it. https://t.co/qShqO0aVSQ
— Stephen Moran (@smoran26) April 3, 2019
beyond the (obvious and evil) fact the phrase is deployed to de-politicize and erase the specific liquidation of black lives, what continually amazes me about the phrase "all lives matter" is that's uttered like an obvious piety when it's obviously untrue https://t.co/d46p8J9UPU
— Patrick Blanchfield (@PatBlanchfield) April 3, 2019
OOF. That’s a yikes from me dawg. https://t.co/4VEjeZMzxv
— Stokes (@stokesmayo) April 3, 2019
Oh boy —- Pete Buttigieg, on police controversy, said 'all lives matter' in 2015 https://t.co/r96Uar6dA2
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) April 3, 2019
With increased attention comes increased vetting and scrutiny.https://t.co/Yo40rE6aPi
— chris evans (@notcapnamerica) April 3, 2019
I was pretty excited about @PeteButtigieg and then:
Jumps on the coastal elites bandwagon
And now 'all lives matter'?
Thank you, next.
— Knitsmacked Ⓥ (@AKnitInTime) April 3, 2019
— Kyle Bell (@kylewbell) April 3, 2019