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Mayor Pete Gets Dragged Into The Deep End of Pool on Race Politics

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic candidate for president, got a hefty mislaid dose of the race politics game intended for use against Republicans.

Mayor Pete got dragged into the deep end of the race politics pool from an incident that began with a South Bend police officer being sent to a suspicious man breaking into cars. When the officer arrived and approached the suspect, the perpetrator raised a six to eight-inch knife over his head in a threatening manner at the officer who feared for his life and in the act of self-defense fired shots that killed the armed black man. The media simply says a white officer kills a black man. Cop kills armed suspect is more accurate.

Unlike California Senator Kamala Harris who kept on trucking on the campaign trail after two severe earthquakes hit near Los Angeles, Buttigieg suspended his campaign to go back to South Bend to deal with the aftermath of the use of force by his police department. Democrats are still using the "white cop kills a black man" headline for political advantage as red meat to energize black voters. It works for national candidates because they are far removed from getting any of the smears on them about local incidents but not so much for mayors who are responsible for and can be tied directly to the actions of their police departments.

Mayor Pete faced a hostile crowd at a community hearing on the shooting. South Bend was being called a racist city. Uh-oh! The crowd wasn't buying any of his attempts to calm the raucous group while at the same time trying not to undercut his police department. It wasn't working. I have to admit that it was fun watching him try to wiggle off the hook. Democrats don't figure they will have to be on the receiving end of a revenge-seeking cop-hating crowd. They're used to pouring gas on a smoldering dry leaf pile.

Mayor Pete faces a dilemma. He has no black bonafides, no history of calling the police in general racist or South Bend as a bastion of racism. Hard to smear the residents of South Bend as racists without getting some of that slime on himself as the city's mayor and he will be returning there after his presidential fantasy fizzles. If he is going to have any chance at the Democratic nomination, he's going to have to appeal to some demographic outside his fragile base. He has to find a way to get black voters to take him for a test drive. Meeting with Al Sharpton last April did not work. Supporting voting rights for felons and reparations for slavery have already been corralled by Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. Even the GOP co-opted criminal justice reform. 

Back on the campaign trail, Mayor Pete held an event and tried out his new race-card playing skills to build black bonafides. At a rally in Iowa, a white voter tried to come to Mayor Pete's defense on how to deal with racial tension in his city. He said, "I have a solution for you, and 'I'd like you to make a comment on my proposal. Just tell the black people of South Bend to stop committing crime and doing drugs." Oh boy. Mayor Pete was not expecting that kind of help. In a knee-jerk fashion, he did what Democrats do in a situation when confronted with the truth about race, crime, and police. Mayor Pete replied, "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 systematic racism." His misuse of crime and race statistics is old and reliable for pandering Democrats.

What Mayor Pete conveniently left out was additional numbers about black males 18-25 years of age and their participation rates in violent crime. Democrats love pointing out that blacks only represent 13 percent of the US population when citing incarceration rates as evidence of racism. Here are some inconvenient crime involvement stats for them, a few that Mayor Pete left out.

According to FBI crime stats on the race of offenders arrested for murder, rape, robbery, manslaughter and aggravated assault, nearly 40 percent are black males, yet they are only 16 percent of the male population. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black Americans are eight times more likely than white Americans to be victims of a homicide. He didn't mention that according to the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics on arrests, 53 percent of people arrested for homicide are black. He neglected to point out that for black males between 18-25 years of age, homicide is the leading cause of death, and the perpetrator overwhelmingly is another black male.

I have attended a lot of sentencing hearings during my 40-year career.  Sentencing consideration is based on the type of crime committed and the defendant's past criminal history. Therefore, black males are more likely to be sentenced to prison based on their repeated past involvement in violent crime, not because they are black. Tell the whole story, Pete.

Too many blacks are dying violently because people like Mayor Pete are more interested in demagoguing race and crime than they are addressing black underclass cultural rot that leads to the violence.  For now Mayor Pete will tread water in the deep end of the race politics game, but if he keeps relying on stats coming from the fruit of the poisonous tree, it won't be long before Mayor Pete is exposed, as well as every Democrat who uses lies to pander for votes rather than have that hard conversation and tell the voters the truth.  

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