Buttigieg's past comment that 'all lives matter' comes under scrutiny

A 2015 speech in which Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegFive takeaways from the Democratic debate As Buttigieg rises, Biden is still the target Gabbard, Buttigieg battle over use of military in Mexico MORE said “all lives matter” is coming under scrutiny from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, according to CNBC.

Buttigieg made the remarks as he was addressing two controversies involving the local police in South Bend, according to CNBC.

The controversies were about Buttigieg's administration's refusal to release tape recordings of police officers in South Bend, and a request by the city's council to a local police officer to stop selling T-Shirts about the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed African-American man, in New York.

"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 his March 2015 State of the City address, according to CNBC.

"We need to take both those things seriously, for the simple and profound reason that all lives matter.”

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Some activists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement see the phrase “all lives matter” as dismissing the specific concerns of black Americans.

Buttigieg's office referred The Hill to the mayor's presidential campaign team, which did not immediately reply to requests for comment from The Hill.

"The Mayor's comment was in the context of discussing racial reconciliation in his 2015 State of the City speech," Lis Smith, a spokeswoman for Buttigieg, told CNBC. “He believes black lives matter and that has been reflected in his actions as mayor of South Bend."

Wayne Messam, the Democratic mayor of Miramar, Fla., and a long-shot 2020 presidential contender, said Buttigieg's comments "lack true understanding of the issue at hand."

"Black Americans have organized all across this country because we have an unequal justice system, not because anyone demands special privileges," Messam said in a statement. " ‘Black lives matter’ doesn’t mean that all lives do not matter, rather it is a cry for equal treatment in the greater circle of justice for all Americans. This is an important issue and we should not muddy the water as Democrats."

The resurfacing of Buttigieg's 2015 comment has also sparked some pushback online.

Patrick Blanchfield, a faculty member at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research said the term “politicize[s] and erase[s] the specific liquidation of black lives.”

Buttigieg was also the subject of a controversy involving South Bend’s first African-American police chief, Darryl Boykins, who obtained a $75,000 settlement from the city after he was demoted, according to CNBC. 

Buttigieg has seen his profile rise in the 2020 presidential race. His campaign said Monday he has raised $7 million in the first quarter.

— Updated at 11:29 a.m.