As out presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg continues to struggle with black voters, his campaign released a plan to “dismantle racist structures and systems.” That includes eliminating the death penalty and legalizing marijuana.
The New York Times reports that Buttigieg faces a difficult path to the Democratic presidential nomination if he can’t gain traction with black voters. The plan comes while Buttigieg deals with a racially sensitive test of leadership as mayor of South Bend, Ind.
In addition to changes to capitol punishment and marijuana laws, Buttgieg also wants to limit use solitary confinement in prisons and eliminate mandatory minimum sentencing.
The plan also says he will be tightening the legal standard for police to use deadly force; creating a federal database of officers fired from police departments; and persuading states to disclose more data on law enforcment to see a correlation with race.
A police-involved shooting in his hometown turned the spotlight on Buttigieg’s history with race relations. Eric Logan, a 54-year-old black man, died after South Bend Sgt. Ryan O'Neill shot him. O’Neill has said Logan came toward him with a knife, but the officer’s body camera was off at the time.
Buttigieg addressed the issue with contrition at the first Democratic presidential debate.
“I'm not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back,” Buttigieg said. “The officer said he was attacked with a knife, but he didn't have his body camera on. It's a mess. And we're hurting.”
Then-opponent Eric Swalwell challenged Buttigieg at the time and said the mayor needed to fire his police chief. Buttigieg hasn’t done so, but since he years ago fired a black police chief, that’s only amplified tension with the black community.
Christine Pelosi, a Democratic National Committee member, told the Times that Buttigieg appears to have evolved on issues of race, but could still have a tough time.
“It is one thing to get credit for evolution and change but it is quite another to be there viscerally,” Pelosi said.
Many voters were exposed to Buttigieg for the first time at the debate, the Times notes. So Buttigieg has continued to work through the public ordeal just as national attention turns toward the presidential contest.
Buttigieg has, however, enjoyed continued fundraising success, raising a stunning $24.8 million in the second quarter. That ultimately turned out to be more money than was raised by any other Democratic candidate.