Buttigieg slams white protester's disruption of black supporters: 'This is the climate that we're in'

South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden's crisis agenda hits headwinds Biden signs order to require masks on planes and public transportation Senators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department MORE on Thursday said an altercation the previous day between a white protester and black supporters of his presidential campaign is a reflection that "this is the climate that we're in."

The unusual disruption of a pro-Buttigieg event took place in South Bend.

Sharon McBride, a black South Bend Common Council member, was speaking at a gathering of black Buttigieg supporters when a white man wearing a "Black Lives Matter" shirt began shouting from the back of the room.


"Where are the black leaders who don't have three-piece suits, leather jackets, and nice clothing?" he yelled over McBride. "Who chose these people as black leaders?"

The man then approached McBride and took the mic and continued, shouting "Who organized them?"

"We have a police crisis in this town," he went on. "Why are we talking about Pete Buttigieg?"

In a video recording of the event, a woman from the crowd is then seen standing up, lifting her cane above her head, as if to strike the man.

The woman was subdued and the man was eventually removed from the event by security.


Buttigieg himself wasn't present at the event, but his campaign did help organize it, according to NBC News.

"It shows kind of where politics has come to, especially for somebody to interrupt an African American woman who was speaking about her truth and in her experience," the 2020 hopeful told NBC.

"But this is the climate that we're in and we need to continue making sure that everyone is empowered to speak their truth, their experience, and in particular, when it comes to South Bend's story," he added.

On Twitter, Buttigieg's staffers responded to the altercation, with senior aide Lis Smith tweeting that the protestor was a supporter of Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBoycott sham impeachment Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Sanders: Senate may use budget reconciliation to pass Biden agenda MORE (I-Vt.).

Sanders's campaign didn't immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The situation highlights one of Buttigieg's most glaring problems: his inability to connect to and win over black voters.

While the South Bend mayor is ahead in the polls in Iowa and only four points behind Sanders for the lead in New Hampshire, a recent The Economist-YouGov poll shows that only 2 percent of black voters nationally said that Buttigieg was their first choice for the Democrats' presidential candidate in 2020.