Wayne Messam, the Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of Miramar, Fla., on Thursday criticized 2020 rival Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegFeehery: Why Democrats are now historically unpopular Harris, Buttigieg to promote infrastructure law in Charlotte 'Fox & Friends Weekend' hosts suggest new variant meant to distract from Biden's struggles MORE over his past remark that "all lives matter," which Messam said lacks a "true understanding of the issue at hand."
“I think the 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," he continued. "This is an important issue and we should not muddy the water as Democrats."
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., said in 2015 that "all lives matter" while addressing two controversies involving the local police in South Bend, according to CNBC.
“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 reportedly said in the speech, which has since resurfaced.
“We need to take both those things seriously, for the simple and profound reason that all lives matter,” he said.
Buttigieg's campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
A spokesperson told CNBC that Buttigieg "believes black lives matter."
“The Mayor’s comment was in the context of discussing racial reconciliation in his 2015 State of the City speech,” Lis Smith, the spokesperson, said in a statement. “He believes black lives matter and that has been reflected in his actions as mayor of South Bend.”
Some activists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement see the phrase “all lives matter” as dismissing the specific concerns of black Americans.