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Tense Exchange During Pete Buttigieg Town Hall. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired June 23, 2019 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:00] MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, AUTHOR, "WHAT TRUTH SOUNDS LIKE": Not being dealt with. So Mayor Pete again is avoiding doing the kind of wiggle free from the central issue here. How do we adjudicate competing claims between the police department and the citizens of this city, South Bend, who claim that they have been victims of racial bias.
And let me say this furthermore. The man who was accused, the police person who killed Mr. Logan, was already cited for vicious behavior and out of control behavior to begin with toward African-American people. So we have a history here that has to be acknowledged. You can't just dismiss it, you've got to deal with it.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And again, if you're just now joining us here in the NEWSROOM, we're watching this town hall underway in South Bend, Indiana. To the right is the South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who's also running for president. To the left is the police chief there, Scott Ruszkowski. And audience members are soon to be asking questions about racial tensions, about a police-involved shooting, involving a white police officer a week ago and a black man.
And Michael Eric Dyson joining me now, really talking about how the city's first black police officer was let go soon after the mayor took office. The mayor --
DYSON: The chief.
WHITFIELD: Through our own CNN reporting, that police chief was replaced by two other police officers, both white, and through our CNN reporting we've also been able to uncover that the makeup -- the makeup of the police force in terms of diversity has gone down, about, you know, 5 percent in an eight-year period. In fact, this is the -- this is the sound bite from the mayor who says, work has to be done, still has yet to be done, but also had this acknowledgment about his own failings.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The effort to recruit more minority officers to the police department, and the effort to introduce body cameras have not succeeded. And I accept responsibility for that. We have tried but not succeeded to increase diversity in the police department and we need help. And while body cameras were implemented across the department, obviously there is enormous frustration which I share that they were not there when we needed them most. And there will be action on that, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Quiet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And you can hear the audience members there, you know, asking when. You know, in part, so, you know, Michael, we were talking earlier when we talked about, you know, Joe Biden and, you know, how he has been under fire for, you know, word choices when he was trying to describe how he worked with segregationists, you know, senators back in the day. There -- you were making the point of acknowledgment goes a long way.
WHITFIELD: And here you have this mayor who is admitting to the failings and also acknowledging those failings and committing to do something about them. Does that count for something, particularly when we're talking about the leader of a city and now one on a national stage who is vying for an even bigger office at 1600 Pennsylvania?
DYSON: Right. Well, we -- remains to be seen. Yes, but it does make a difference. To acknowledge the problem is critical because if you try to pretend it doesn't exist, if you do the proverbial put your head into the sand like an ostrich, even though we know that technically that's not true, then you don't deal with the problem. But here is a man who at least is committing to addressing it.
Now would he be addressing it with the same kind of dispatch and exigency that were to be the case had he not committed himself to running for the presidency? Maybe not. But the fact is he is. So it works both way. He gets a national platform to broadcast and platform his extraordinary commitment if it exists to this democracy, but he also has to have a stronger spotlight on him to say, what are you going to do? This is a test case.
If you can't handle the mayoralty, then you can't handle the presidency. And if you can acknowledge that there are people who are out there who are very upset. They're not against law enforcement, they're not against cops. They're against cops who kill and who shoot black people without warrant. They are against people who use lethal force without lethal intent so -- on the part of those who are victims.
So the question is, can we move beyond acknowledgment now to walking the talk? But, yes, critical acknowledgment is so important to try to get things done.
WHITFIELD: And you mentioned, you underscored this really is a test. I mean, these kinds of investigations, no, it's not an anomaly. You know, it's not just happening in South Bend, Indiana.
DYSON: Right. WHITFIELD: I mean, this is something that has, you know, swept across
the country, continues to and has for decades, I mean, you know, historically.
[16:05:02] But how this mayor addresses it and how he's able to either bring promise or bring results, I mean, what can the expectations be while he's also on the campaign trail for national office?
DYSON: Yes, that's a great point. Look, being cute, liberal, progressive, gay are tremendous attractions and appeals to us, but it can't absolve you of the responsibility of dealing with tough questions. Neither can Joe Biden being wise and grizzled and long in the tooth and with liberal bona fides for days, dismiss the necessity for him to address this issue of race. So young and old have to understand that this is a test of not only the durability of your vision, but it's about the way in which you are able to be sensitive to the mass of African-American people who, after all, are the bedrock, the substrata, of the Democratic Party.
If you're willing to dismiss their interests in deference to what you think is an elusive white voter who might be outraged or ostracized or somehow feel themselves an outcast because you're paying too much attention to this issue, you are misreading the tea leaves.
WHITFIELD: OK. But let me -- I don't mean to interrupt you. But let's listen right now to the town hall because apparently there are folks expressing themselves in the audience.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So please, please, let's be respectful. Mayor Pete? Yes. OK.
BUTTIGIEG: Go to the audience question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) lying to us yesterday?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. So --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So let's -- one last question for Mayor Pete and Chief Scott. How will you keep the community informed in regards to this process? How will we do that moving forward?
BUTTIGIEG: Chief can start then I'll --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's a very difficult process to do to even conceive because again, when it comes to law, legalities, contract, it's difficult to give information out. However, and I've heard this and I'm glad you mentioned this as well, when officers say that they were wrongly dismissed or wrongly whatever the police department, for one example.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you saw this internal affairs or administrative advisory is floating around all over the place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure, sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those cannot be released except for court order or subpoena or if the officer, any officer, so say, for example, an officer left the police department and they say how they were wrongly done -- and I'm just giving an example -- have that officer give me permission in writing to release their internal affairs file and you can look at them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that sounds fair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Pete --
BUTTIGIEG: So --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So let's allow for our mayor now to answer the question. Thank you so much.
BUTTIGIEG: So our intention will be to release as much information as we legally can as quickly as possible.
BUTTIGIEG: So, as you know, there are moments, for example, during the investigation right now where pieces of evidence are still under review. But I can tell you that it will be our policy that everything that can come out come out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thank you so much. Let's make the transition now to our Q&A part. There will be someone with a mic --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm looking to see where that's going to be, who is going to handle the mic for questions, or are we allowing them to come to the stage?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. No, no, no, questioning, they were supposed to have a mic for questions and answers. Yes. Are we wanting them to come to the stage?
BUTTIGIEG: I think there's a microphone that will -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There should be a microphone in the audience.
BUTTIGIEG: The microphone will come to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Do we have one in the audience?
BUTTIGIEG: OK, a microphone will come to you.
[16:10:05] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think we need one.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you for your patience. A mic is now coming. Let me say as well that we do have the National Action Network has joined us as well. Reverend Al Sharpton and his team is here on tonight. And so we are appreciative to their presence as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are coming with a mic and we are still awaiting the mic so that each individual who wants to ask questions will be able to as well articulate themselves. Here we go. All right. We now have the mic and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me thank everyone for your presence. And I hear the uproar and the pain. I'm getting ready to introduce myself. My name is Pastor Carleton Lynch. I serve with Reverend Al Sharpton, National Action Network. So here --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here -- yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. Yes, ma'am. All we're coming to do --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on one second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Let's give him a moment to share --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your people ain't got shut to do with this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's give him a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) in South Bend for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, so hold on. Hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lets let's give him a moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here. Come here. Just stand still. Just stand here. Just stand here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm working --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real quick, real quick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's give him a moment.
BUTTIGIEG: Reverend, with respect --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, quiet down, please.
BUTTIGIEG: Excuse me --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I tried to set a town hall three years ago. I tried to set a town -- no. I want to let everybody know something. I tried to set a town hall up three years ago between the community -- the community reached out to the police. We've got to bridge this gap between the police and the community. I personally -- you remember that.
BUTTIGIEG: Yes, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I personally talked to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) distract all. But you would know that. Three days before, I set up --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, sir.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, I'm going to give you the mic. Let me give you the mic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, someone has the mic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on, hold on. Let --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If everyone can just -- we're going to allow him to speak if everyone can just calm down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three years ago when everything was going on, after the Franklin case got decided, three years ago, I personally decided -- I said let's reach out to -- the community needs to reach out to the police department and bridge this gap. And I proposed a cookout and a town hall meeting. Went and set everything up. Made fliers, talked to them, got commitment from everybody that was going to be there. Talked to the city. Set up the moderator, the panel, everything.
Three days before that, they canceled. Hold up, hold up, hold up. Hold up. Three days before they canceled. In the meantime, Aaron Knepper jumps on somebody at a Notre Dame, a Notre Dame student. But that -- we'll work on that later. Six weeks later they come up with their own town hall at the Craft Center that we have. Now all of a sudden it's their narrative. They want to do -- they want to reach out to the community to try and do this after they turned us down.
It's an not about me personally. I'm not mad about me personally getting my idea stolen. It's the fact that the community reached out -- they keep begging for us to reach out and bridge this gap and whatever else, and we reached out to them and they said no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pastor Lynch, if you would finish and then we'll take the next person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Sherri Petes and I serve as a director of community outreach. I thank you for coming here today. This is my alma mater, this is my home. So if we can allow us to come to you to put the mic to you so that way it's a safe and productive conversation, I would greatly appreciate that if that's OK. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, thank you, Sherri.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. And also if I may, because I know we have a lot of questions and we want to make sure we get to those questions and get to a place where people can share their grievances, if we can do two minutes if that's possible.
[16:20:03] So we want to make sure that people get a chance to have their voice heard and give us a space to listen. Thank you so much. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I want to say something. I know we all are angry. Well, first of all, my name is Samuel Brown. I have marched in this town. I have cried in this town. We're all upset about this. But I want you to listen to me. Please listen. You don't have to agree with me. WHITFIELD: All right. You are listening to people who are very upset
and they have expressed they are hurt and they are in pain, and they are confronting the city leadership of South Bend, Indiana, namely the mayor, Pete Buttigieg, who is also running for national office, for the White House. And you heard one gentleman who got up there and said, hey, we've been trying to address the city for three years now, at least three years now to get this kind of town hall meeting underway, and that gentleman said he got a big no from the city.
And so folks are upset about the most recent police-involved shooting involving a white officer and a black man. There was also a shooting that took place at a bar this morning that the mayor did touch on, but again, the mayor has said he can't give any detail about the investigations underway, but he says as soon as he gets information, the intention is to release as much information as possible and as soon as he can.
He did receive some applause there, but now people from the audience are expressing their frustration about the city addressing issues that are matters of concern.
Let me bring in our CNN politics reporter Dan Merica who has been reporting on Pete Buttigieg, looking into years of tensions in South Bend under this mayor. And so is this the boiling point? You know, or maybe even the breaking point for so many people in the community who have said, we want matters addressed, we haven't been able to get that. Perhaps this is a start, says the mayor, or is this, you know, underscoring a really big problem there?
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, my colleague, Vanessa Yurkevich and I spent some time really digging into Pete Buttigieg's record handling the South Bend Police Department for his eight years as mayor. And what you're seeing right now in that town hall is reflected in what we discovered and what we found from other people in the community, and it's tension, racial tension in South Bend around the police department and the around way the police department interacts with the large African-American community in South Bend.
What we have found really is that this tension you're seeing, this tension is played out for the last week has been simmering under the surface and at times above the surface for most of the eight years that Mayor Buttigieg has been in office. It's pretty stark when you hear activists, when you hear members of the community calling out officers by name and that's a man in the audience mentioned, Aaron Knepper, that's somebody who we looked into in our piece, get into the many allegations against Aaron Knepper and the fact that he remains on the force and how that impacts people in the community to this day.
The other factor that we write about is that the police department doesn't reflect the African-American community in South Bend. In 2014, 10 percent of the police force was African-American. That number in 2019, according to the South Bend Police Department, is now at 5 percent. So this is a pivotal moment for Pete Buttigieg. Not only as his tenure as mayor, but nationally, he is asking people across the country to vote for him for president because of his eight years' experience as a South Bend mayor, using that as a validator on the campaign trail, talking about it often.
And that's why I think you see him during events like this saying we need help, I made mistakes, facing up to the things that he has been unable to accomplish, hoping that that honesty plays well with voters who have a lot of questions about what's going on right now in South Bend.
WHITFIELD: Sure, an acknowledgment of, you know, we need help. But it also appears as though the people in the audience are looking for this mayor to take a more leadership role and it seemed as though, you know, really commandeering this town hall would be the NAACP president who we couldn't see, but we could hear his voice, where it seems like he was in the driver's seat of how this was going. And even there were at least two opportunities for the mayor to step up and he deferred to the police chief.
And, you know, that's not going over well, apparently, to a lot of the audience members who want to see this mayor in charge, taking that leadership role. Yes, saying I acknowledge there are mistakes made, but it sounds like, it looks like people are craving for more in that audience.
MERICA: Yes, there's clearly a lot of pain in that audience and that's what we saw talking to people from officers and activists in the South Bend community.
[16:20:03] And a lot of that has been brought to the surface by this shooting of a black man at the hands of a police officer last week. And you've seen that play out over the past week in South Bend. But clearly it's something deeper going on. You can't watch the video that's happening right now in South Bend and think that that's just been something that's been created over the last week. It's something deeper than that and it's clearly something that Mayor Buttigieg has to address in his hometown. '
I mean, he is from South Bend. He notes that often. That this is his home and that's why these matters mean so much to him. But it's also something that now that he is asking people for their vote, you know, he is campaigning for president, it's something that will impact his candidacy. And it's significant because he announced his candidacy to very little fanfare and then very quickly got a lot of momentum and took off. And largely unabated, has risen from 1 percent candidate to a candidate who is in the top five.
And on the verge of a Democratic debate this week in Miami, this is a lot for one candidate who hasn't run for national office, hasn't run for senator or House before.
MERICA: To be handling going into such a crucial debate in Miami.
WHITFIELD: What's -- OK, Dan, let me just listen into what's happening right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any racist is at the damn desk. Put them at the desk, make them do paperwork. Put the people that care about the fact that you're different than me, honey, I love your hair. Make them the ones out there on the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, ma'am. Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: May I respond to that for just a second?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Yes, Mayor, you can respond.
BUTTIGIEG: Let me respond to that. You might stay around just while I'm responding. You can go back to your seat, OK.
BUTTIGIEG: First of all, thank you for that. And I appreciate that what you said is specific and actionable and constructive. I will say that if anyone who is on patrol is shown to be a racist or to do something racist --
BUTTIGIEG: In a way that is substantiated, that is their last day on the street.
BUTTIGIEG: And I would love to be able to finish -- I would love to be able to finish my reply, if that's OK. I would appreciate being able to finish my reply. I believe you have described a specific tool that can be used in order to identify indications of racism. It is not familiar to me and so I thank you for bringing it up, and I will research it right away.
BUTTIGIEG: Any tool that can help the city make good on the promise I just made is a tool that we will want to know about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. You have the mic. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, we don't need her to speak.
BUTTIGIEG: Please, everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth will never want to get heard, but we're going to speak it today because in order for justice to be served in the correct and appropriate manner, the truth must go forward. So since we want to have church for our churchgoers -- hold on, because that's going to be the first -- I mean, I'm going to sum this up real quick. In the Book of Proverbs --
WHITFIELD: All right. So as audience members are continuing to, you know, ask questions of the mayor directly about their frustrations, I want to bring into our panel, we've got Michael Eric Dyson who is still with us and then we've got CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and, Ron, I understand that you have been part of forums across the country.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
WHITFIELD: While on the campaign trail. And race has been at the core. And now being evaluated is how is Mayor Pete Buttigieg handling this on a local level.
WHITFIELD: And is this -- does this exemplify how he would be able to manage racial tensions that continue much more broadly on a national stage?
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, you know, in my Atlantic hat, we have had forums around the country on criminal justice reform. And it's very clear that there is no issue that is more volatile and explosive in our cities than police use of force, particularly in communities of color. And, you know, the kind of issues that you hear in South Bend are really evident in cities everywhere. I mean, I think, you know, blue -- urban America is becoming more blue than ever. The top 100 counties in America accounted for over half of all of Hillary Clinton's votes.
But within that kind of blue consensus in the cities, there is this very jagged divide, and we've seen it in city after city and it's exacerbated by the fact that many of these cities are achieving economic growth that they have not seen in decades and yet very little of it is benefiting their own kids from low income and minority neighborhoods.
[16:25:14] And it's become, I think, a kind of very volatile combination that is evident even in South Bend. Dan can probably speak to that more than I, but certainly something that you see behind kind of underneath the kind of immediate flash point like they're experiencing there right now.
WHITFIELD: Right, left behind, not something that, you know, is historically distant, but a continuation. And so, you know, Michael Eric Dyson, you know, one of the gentlemen who was talking about, hey, look, I tried to get a town hall going three years ago and he talked about the Franklin case. And I tried to look up quickly to see what he could be making reference to and it may potentially be this DeShawn Franklin case in which a young man, I believe the age of 22 at the time, he was killed after police officers entered his family's home without a warrant.
And so if that is indeed the case that he was making reference to, you know, it is still a deep wound. I don't know the outcome of it because I haven't been able to discern, you know, the path, you know, during this three-year span. But if what people are trying to have addressed with the mayor is it's not just the police-involved shooting from one week ago. DYSON: Yes.
WHITFIELD: But while you were mayor three years ago, almost four years ago, there were other issues that arose involving police- involved shootings, white police officer, black, you know, subjects.
DYSON: Victims, right.
WHITFIELD: You know, and victims of the investigation, so he is being asked to address, you know, a problem that has history under his leadership.
WHITFIELD: And so is this going well for him?
DYSON: That's a great point.
WHITFIELD: Right now?
DYSON: No, not at all. No, not at all. Here's the point. It's extremely important to make this point. He's not grappling with 20 years of history, although that cumulative pain can be heard viscerally seen there today. It's during his own administration. What he has failed to take note of. What Brother Ron talked about the bluing of urban America, how ironic. It's blue all right. Not only in terms of its demographics in regard to Democratic versus Republican, but it's blue in terms of the thin blue line that is thickened across the horizon of urban America where black people are being increasingly policed, where their bodies are potentially vulnerable.
So not only to rebuffed, not only to being handcuffed, not only to being batoned, but being tasered and then sometimes ultimately killed. So this is a tremendous problem. There is nothing more important than this volatility that we see being expressed there. And it would be wrong for most of America to look at these people and go, oh, my god, they can't even sit still and listen to the mayor, how can we calm the nerves of the people?
I'll tell you how you do it. By not dismissing the legitimate concerns they have on a daily basis where, because they have been unheard, now it comes to this convergence point where it is spilling over, where the nerves are frayed, where the calmness has been dismissed. And so yes, the mayor has a lot of splaining to do, so to speak. And this is really him looking into a mirror seeing that he has failed abysmally. And now this is not going well today. It's out of his hands, he makes specific and sporadic interventions, but he doesn't feel the pain of the people in a way that causes him to have a moral creativity to address it beyond legality.
Don't just receive into niches of legality, speak to the broad sweeping problems that are confronting the people there.
WHITFIELD: Right. Because it sounds like people are saying this moment is now revealing because whether it was a couple of days ago when people in South Bend approached him directly and challenged him with what -- you know, what have you done for us lately, I mean, why have you not addressed matters. And then you have people making reference to other cases, not just more recent, but, you know, in recent years.
WHITFIELD: What's revealing here is they are challenging him about, what's your motivation for caring about us now? Because they are saying you have not done enough to demonstrate that you cared about us before you got on the national campaign stage.
So let's listen in to what's being asked and what he's being challenged with right now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please give us the space to share that information with you. I want to continue with the questions you have and then we'll go back to the Q&A, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you so much, Sherri, for bringing us up to date and positioning us as to where we are now. So let's ask the question about resources. Let's talk about trust. How do we bring trust back to our police force?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Mayor Pete, if we could address that, because it's going to be important as I look at our community. Obviously, our police department is here to serve and protect. But if we can't trust our police department, that's difficult for them to do. And it's difficult for us to have a relationship of any kind when there's no trust.
And so I believe that trust has been broken in our community, and we have to do something about it to regain the trust. And we can't just have this kind of a meeting, and we walk away and not commit ourselves to a process that will bridge this gap. And so I believe that question is critical.
MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So let me tell you some things that I think might help. But let me also acknowledge that the entire community will have to be empowered here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure.
BUTTIGIEG: I shared some of the things when I spoke earlier that we've done up until now. It's also clear that we have a long way to go. I do want to clarify that Chief Ruszkowski has my confidence. Let me mention a few things that I think are examples of areas we could work on together. And I would love to hear more, either tonight or in the weeks that are going to come.
There are several areas where we know there is a lot of concern in the community, where there is a policy or a practice or both that the community may not have confidence in. And that we could invite the community to help us reshape. I will mention six. One is the use of force. There is a written policy around the use of force. Is it the right one? Could it be improved? We can have a community process to look at
that. Number two, we talked about this a lot. But I will just mention it briefly, cameras. So obviously, there is a lot of concern about what it takes to have confidence that body-worn cameras are doing what we intend them to do. The third is the process for investigating an officer-involved shooting.
We've described the process, the way that it works. It goes to metro homicide, the prosecutors in charge of deciding if charges should be filed before any of it goes to the police for discipline. That is not the only process we could have. If there is another process that community members would believe is better that might lead to more trust, we should explore that.
The fourth out of the six is the investigative process, more generally. When there is a complaint about an officer, who do you complain to? How do we determine if that complaint is valid? There is a process for that. We can explain and describe that process. Perhaps we can also improve it. The Board of Safety, the way that works, is in the state law.
But that doesn't mean that that's all there is to the story. There are things we can do before or after or around it. For that matter, we could -- including...
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Mayor Buttigieg there ticking off what he believes are the six areas in which the community can help him in reshaping, you know, how to move forward on addressing some of these issues. So let's bring in National Correspondent Jason Carroll. He is there, Jason, this audience not holding back.
They've been very anxious about addressing these things with the mayor. What's the perception in the room about how the mayor is handling this?
JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look. This audience is angry. There's no question about it. They're angry with the mayor, angry at the chief of police here, and not listening to the head of the NAACP, the man who is moderating this town hall. There have been several outbursts throughout this entire town hall from people who are simply fed up.
I mean one woman told me she doesn't feel as though there is enough transparency with this department. You've heard a number of people shouting down the head of the NAACP, shouting down Mayor Buttigieg as well, as they try to explain what they're trying to do to get this department back on track. The mayor has already made it very clear at the top of this meeting.
[16:34:58] He said, look, we've not done enough. He's not done enough to try to get this department to be more diverse. The department is predominantly white. You've got a number of people in this community, Fredricka, who feel as though there are members of the police department who are racist. They want them removed. The mayor and the chief of police tried to explain that there is a process for this. If there are allegations of police misconduct, if there are
allegations that officers are racist or have used racially insensitive language, there is a process to remove them from the force. But there has been such a history of mistrust here in the community between the community and this police department that you've got folks here who are impatient, quite frankly.
They don't want to wait for the process. What they are looking for is immediate action. So what you have now is you've got the mayor trying to explain the steps that he's going to take to go forward to try to get this department back on track. And you've got a very frustrated audience, Fredricka?
WHITFIELD: Frustrated indeed. All right, Jason. Hold tight. I want to bring in Congressman Ami Bera -- is joining us right now. You, Congressman, you know, dealt with an officer-involved shooting in Sacramento. That is your district. You were actually invited on to talk about something else. But, you know, you can relate to what's happening here.
And when we hear, you know, Mayor Pete Buttigieg who says, you know, I want to hear from you, audience, about how I can empower you to be part of the process. Do you believe that this is helpful at this juncture in this town hall setting, that this is what people want to hear about how they can be empowered to be a part of the process somewhere down the line of reform?
Or were they looking for some -- for more immediacy from this mayor about addressing their hurt and their pain?
REP. AMI BERA (D-CA): You know, just kind of listening to the town hall, the emotions are very raw right now. And I think Pete is doing what he has to do by allowing the audience to express themselves. You know, what we went through here in the Sacramento region with the tragic death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed African-American man, you know, the emotions were raw.
They're still raw today. And the community is still healing. It takes time. So I think -- I know Pete Buttigieg. I think, you know, he's an honest, upright individual who is doing the best to give the community the space to express the anger, frustration, and emotion. I think you have got to create that space.
WHITFIELD: Because, you know, it's not just Sacramento. It's not just South Bend. But we are talking about, you know, a national issue. We are talking about, you know, police-involved shootings that have happened in so many different communities. And we hear from a variation of communities who talk about their frustrations, particularly when it talks about -- at the center is the disproportionate number of black individuals, mostly black men who are killed in police-involved shootings.
And you heard from people in the audience there who said, wait a minute, you know, Mr. Mayor. We've been trying to address this for a very long time. This is not an anomaly what just happened one week ago. But this has happened on several occasions, so for the mayor to be, you know, addressing this from an executive leadership in that city is one thing.
But this is a microcosm of what's taking place nationally. And he's running for the presidency. How he handles this...
BERA: I agree.
WHITFIELD: You know, will be measured far differently because he is running for national office. Do you agree?
BERA: I agree. Certainly, this is a test of his executive leadership and what he does in a difficult, volatile situation. Obviously, the president of the United States has to make decisions like that everyday. You know, what I can share is how we started the process of healing as a community. Our police chief, Daniel Hahn, did a great job of being as transparent as possible.
And I think that's incredibly important in situations like this, because if the communities that are frustrated and angry feel like you're hiding information from them. That's just going to feed into that anger. And, you know, again, I think both Police Chief Hahn here in Sacramento, the Mayor, Darrell Steinberg, tried to be as transparent as possible.
And that would be the advice that I would give Mayor Pete, is be transparent and try to include folks in this and try to make the community part of the solution.
WHITFIELD: Well, he proposed that. But you heard from one individual there who said, you know, trust. You know, trust is a big issue right here. And, you know, many people in the community say we're not even sure whether we can trust, you know, you, the leadership, the city. All right, everyone stay with me. We're going to continue to monitor there. You see it is pretty heated there at that town hall in South Bend. I will be back with my guests' right after this.
[16:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. Well, a big test for South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who coming off this week said it was a challenging week. Well, that was before this, what has turned out to be a very contentious town hall meeting there in South Bend where people are expressing their concerns about trust, lack of trust, and lack of trust into an investigation underway involving a police- involved shooting of a white police officer and a black man one week ago. Let's listen in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I think we have a win right there. Is that right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So we're going to now go back to question and answer. We have about 10 minutes or so left. There we go. We're on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, thank you so much. We are going to take a
few more questions, and Blue, would you like to have a question?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am. Power to the people, all power to the people, my name is Blue Casey, founder and president of New Black Power in South Bend, also the founder of (Inaudible) youth foundation. I am also a shooting victim of last month on Mother's Day. She shot my recording studio up 16 times. I caught two of them. One in my backside that came out, one in my foot, I had a bullet in my foot a whole week.
I worked with the city on numerous occasions. I was just an employee for the city this past summer and fall for community development and resources. So when I say this, everything I am saying is not biased at all. Mayor Pete and Ruszkowski, and Ruszkowski we had conversations on numerous occasions. When I got shot, I wanted to make sure you that knew that I got shot.
[16:45:06] We just heard all of this in 2016. And I wish, as much as I love my city, because Lord knows, everybody said I need to move my black self back to Atlanta. But listen, like I was saying, like I was saying, like I was saying, like I was saying.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, Blue.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like I was saying, I want to say that I love this city. I want to say I love this city so much and I want to support you all. But I refuse to lay down my respect for these people out here that's hurting to say something that's photo-oping that sounds meaningful but it ain't. The same process you all telling us to trust you told us in 2016 when we were protesting Aaron (Inaudible) for the first time.
The same process you're asking us to trust, so how can we trust this process? How can we ask another black man to go join the police department, to try to be part of the change, when you have sexual harassment charges inside the South Bend Police Department, you promote the bad officers and demote the good ones. You all got racism inside of your police department. How are we supposed to trust this?
How are we supposed to trust this? Mayor, when that young man got killed, ran over at the stop light, what did you say? What did you say, Mayor? You dang near blamed him. How are we supposed to trust you? And you done partnered with a lot of the stuff that we done did with my organization. I understand that. But when you mess up, we have to also call that out, too.
But when the city messes up, we have to call that out, too. And our people are hurt. Dr. King said everybody out here want to be Martin Luther King scholars, right? Dr. King said a riot is a voice (Inaudible) I am not encouraging a riot, but these people is unheard. These people are unheard. That's why you're getting the reaction you're getting. Stop telling people to shut up.
Stop telling people how to feel, because you're not feeling the same way we feeling. I have been fighting the same fight with these people six years. I had to stop because I got retaliated against. I got retaliated against for trying to fight against (Inaudible) case. My girlfriend at the moment got taken down by police, pulled her over -- hold on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blue, you have 30 seconds.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police came to the car and said that's not her when they pulled her over. They retaliate against people when they fight back in this city. We can't retaliate for fighting against you all. How can we trust you all? You have to change that. I told you on Friday to do your jobs. If you want our votes, which I doubt, you're going to get it.
Do your job just so you can have a moral compass when you leave this place. Ruszkowski, do your job so you can have a moral compass...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Appreciate you and your time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. And I want to -- I know that two minutes, three minutes is not enough. And I apologize for the lack of time that we have. But I know, Mr. Geiger, you have a question. Were you able to ask the question? If I may, Blue, was there a specific question you wanted them to respond to? Nope? OK, you just wanted to make...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just want to know now, the council approved monies for the body cameras, right? This was years ago, right, when this was passed through, Henry Davis, Jr., brought this up. A number of people brought this up, right? I would like to know why. According to the company that produced the body cameras, it says that once a shot is fired, it's supposed to record.
Now, when we were at WUBS, right, and the family was speaking on the air about this, Councilman Oliver Davis, Jr., actually read the article from the South Bend Tribune that reported you said that, you know, the body camera was what this was for. It's equipped with this technology. However, in that conversation, a news reporter who was conversing with -- by text with a police officer, I don't know who.
You all said that it didn't have that sensor, so it wouldn't go off. And we just want to know why? It was paid for in full. You all said. And you wrote the policy, right? You wrote the policy in the duty manual. We want to talk about that, too, right? Like, how are all these loopholes, right, like, oh, it's at the officer's discretion if the cameras turn on, turn off.
Headlights have to be on. They have to flick switch, all this stuff, right? Then it's like, maybe they could, maybe if it's bad enough they could record. You know, record the situation. Why wasn't it already mandatory in the policy that you record every interaction with citizens? It makes no sense. It makes no sense. It's paid for. You already knew people were upset about it, so it should have been dealt with.
And one last thing, I am sorry, one last thing. Since you fired Boykins for federal investigation -- if there is a federal investigation, Ruszkowski should be fired.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
BUTTIGIEG: Let me try to respond to the question.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead, Mayor Pete.
[16:50:02] BUTTIGIEG: So if I understood your question correctly, it's about a feature where when a gun is removed from its holster then that automatically activates the body camera -- I am sorry, I cannot hear Jordan speak if you're shouting over him. Please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When a shot is fired.
BUTTIGIEG: When a shot -- I don't know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jordan, good question. That technology exists, but it's not implemented.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why? Why?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't trust you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have the same questions that you did, and I called the company myself, and I talked to them myself. And their best guess...
BUTTIGIEG: Let him talk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't even have it testable yet. It won't be -- rolled out until this coming spring is what the company told me. You can call and check and ask them, same thing that I did. Call and ask them.
BUTTIGIEG: So, let me -- it's going to be really hard to respond to Jordan's question if we can't hear him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are going to go ahead and move on unless that you have anything else you want to add, Chief, Mayor. I will move on to the next resident, actually.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, I want to know who wrote that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wrote the loophole? You're the policy writer, right? You're the policy expert.
BUTTIGIEG: The policy was approved by the Board of Safety.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who wrote it?
BUTTIGIEG: I do not know who drafted it. But I believe that it was drawn from model policies from around the country, and again...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it was copy and paste, right?
BUTTIGIEG: Per the general order, my view is that under the current policy, when an officer on a call encounters a civilian, the camera should be activated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Mayor Pete, that's it for your answer, correct, all right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we're going to go to...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We have the mic going to the next person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to give a very specific recommendation that you might be able to embrace. A great example is that -- I am an elected official representing the district who happens to be the district in which this tragedy occurred. And I find it hard to believe and sad that -- you know, it's hard for me to step up here and take the mic.
I think one of the problems that we're experiencing here today is that when I first came on the council four years ago, we had that meeting that the gentleman referenced earlier. So that was about policing. That was about some of the officers who are currently -- we're addressing right now. It's been four years and there's no action.
In fact, there's a problem still with those specific officers. So what I think -- my specific recommendation is that you begin to think about ways, and those ways have been, over the last four years, brought to you by the same people that I see speaking here tonight and yelling tonight. They're yelling now. They're yelling now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're yelling now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our council woman is speaking, please.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because they haven't had the opportunity to speak to you in a way that gives you that information, so...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I am hearing all of that. So this is my
specific suggestion, is that when I see you in front of the cameras or when I see who is on the list to invite to the table for conversations, I see the same black people over and over and over again, year after year. And yet, the people who are in the audience, when you have these public forums, are the same black people.
But they're not invited to the table. And I think that it's time for you to rethink who you think the leaders are in this black community. Not to say that the people you chose for the Board of Public Safety aren't leaders, that their opinions aren't valid. Not to say that our esteemed president of the new NAACP doesn't have an opinion. But when you continue -- ask any leader.
[16:55:09] When you continue to go to the same people and you have anointed them as the voice of the black community, you are leaving an entire group of people out. And so my specific recommendation is that you investigate ways to be more inclusive. And I don't think it's too hard, because everybody knows Jordan. Everybody knows Jordan, because he has been on the frontlines of this since he returned to this community from graduate school.
There needs to be more meaningful conversations with a more diverse group, because what you see tonight is that African-Americans are not monolithic. We do not have the same ideas, thoughts, and opinions. And we do not have the same experiences, across the country, or especially in this community. So whereas we can choose a group to stand behind us and then it looks like, oh, well, yeah, black people endorse this or that.
I think it's really important for you to figure outweighs to connect with the Jordan's, with the Goos, with all of these people who are out here. Tiana, who spoke to you earlier with a very specific example, she has been doing that work for -- I don't know how long she's been trained. And this is a specific example we've been trying to bring to you, how do you address those things.
And so we have spent four years. Even before I was on the council, the Citizens Review Board was actually put in a resolution by the Common Council to say let's investigate that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your two minutes is over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, it is. And so this specific example is that...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's going to wrap it up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you look at those things, that you go back, and we don't wait, because my question is how long? My question is how long before you take action? And you respond to what the community has been asking for, for years, a Citizens Review Board, period. Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Councilwoman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Due to the interest of time, Mayor, would you like to respond to that? We do have two more questions. We have been...
BUTTIGIEG: I will be brief. First of all, I welcome the spirit of that suggestion. I am always trying to get more voices to be heard. I don't want to seem defensive, but we've taken a lot of steps. They clearly haven't been enough. But I cannot accept the suggestion that we did nothing. If it were not for the conversations that we had, we might not have done what we did on bias training, civil rights training, community policing, introducing the cameras, the online transparency.
But I acknowledge that it has not been enough. I would like as many different voices to be at the process as possible. That's why we do mayor's night out. That's why we're here, even though not everybody would advise some of these means of soliciting input. I would also say to activists who want to be heard who haven't in the process, please accept the invitations when you are invited.
Some of the specific individuals you have named in your commentary were invited to my office and decided not to join. And that seat at the table, I want people to know the seat at the table is waiting for you. And I would welcome more input from you on how I could do a better job at making people feel that they're actually welcome when invited to that table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't trust you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Mayor. The next question is from a resident from South Bend.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. I have two questions, one specifically for the police chief and one specifically for you, Mayor Pete. First of all, the citizens of South Bend paid for those police cameras, correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Millions of tax dollars went to those police cameras, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when you roll them out for us, when you have the big news, the press conference and said how good they were and they were going to work. Well, they failed. And we don't get our refund. That's one. Two, the second question is what's the standard procedure for transporting a gunshot wound victim to the hospital after he's shot by a police officer and transported by police officers after the ambulance had been called? That it -- I want to know the procedure for the transport, and when
will we get our refunds for the debunked police cameras that are not working for our communities? Because, you know what, I am raising a seven-year-old grandson that when he sees the police, he is afraid. That is not what's supposed to happen in America, in Indiana in 2019.