With the New Hampshire primary taking place on Tuesday, all eyes are focused on the competition between former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, particularly since the chaotic Iowa caucus have still failed to provide conclusive results.
But during Friday’s New Hampshire Democratic debate, Buttigieg faced intense questioning over his mayoral administration and its problems with jailing Black people disproportionately over small marijuana offenses.
Arrests in South Bend were said to be four times higher for African Americans than for whites. It’s a claim Buttigieg disputed at the Friday debate, saying, "The reality is, on my watch, drug arrests were lower than the national average and specifically to marijuana, lower than Indiana."
He then said systematic racism has "penetrated to every level of our system."
ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis followed up, stressing there was an increase in arrests by citing that when Buttigieg took office in 2012, the numbers had increased and were still up as late as 2018.
According to Davis, the racial disparity in South Bend for marijuana arrests were higher in Indiana and the rest of the United States as a whole.
"Yeah, and one of the strategies that our community adopted was to target when there were cases where there was gun violence and gang violence, which was slaughtering so many in our community, burying teenagers, disproportionately Black teenagers, we adopted a strategy that said that drug enforcement would be targeted in cases where there was a connection to the most violent group or gang connected to a murder," he replied.
Davis then asked Sen. Elizabeth Warren if Buttigieg’s answer was substantial.
"No," she replied to applause from the audience. "We need to rework our criminal justice system from the very front end on what we make illegal all the way through the system and how we help people come back into the community.”
Kudos to ABC for finally forcing Mayor Pete to finally address the system racism he directly oversaw in his police department and its disparate treatment of black South Bend residents. pic.twitter.com/Th51WED3c3— jordan (@JordanUhl) February 8, 2020
Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images