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Buttigieg slams disruption of black supporters’ rally that turned into chaos

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Pete Buttigieg on Thursday criticized an explosive — and nearly violent — interruption by a protester in a “Black Lives Matter” shirt at a gathering of African American supporters in South Bend, Indiana, as an “unfortunate” result of the political “climate that we’re in.”

“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,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, told NBC News about the Wednesday night incident.

“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 said.

Buttigieg was responding to a skirmish — caught on video — at which several African Americans who support his campaign were interrupted by a protester.

Sharon McBride, a black South Bend Common Council member, was speaking about why she backs Buttigieg, who has struggled to win over African American voters, when a man in the audience began shouting over her.

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“Where are the black leaders who don’t have three-piece suits, leather jackets, and nice clothing?” yelled a man who was wearing a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.

“Who chose these people as black leaders?” said man asked. He then approached the front of the room, grabbed the microphone from McBride and shouted, “Who organized them?”

“We have a police crisis in this town,” he said. “Why are we talking about Pete Buttigieg?”

Several local media outlets in South Bend identified the protester as Igor Rodriguez.

An older woman in the crowd then stood up and raised her cane above her head and gestured toward the man in what appeared to be a threat to strike him before being subdued.

Buttigieg was not present at the event, which was organized with the help of his campaign.

In a statement Thursday, Black Lives Matter-South Bend said it “fully supports the actions of our members and allies at the Pete for America press conference held in South Bend, IN, yesterday.”

“This protest represents only a fraction of the longstanding pain many Black, Brown, and poor citizens endure in Mayor Pete’s South Bend,” the group said.

The incident Wednesday night was the latest display of Buttigieg’s struggles to appeal to African-American voters. As his polling numbers have risen, Buttigieg has been forced to confront questions about his record on race, police accountability and crime reduction in South Bend, which all came to the forefront after police shot and killed a black man in June.

Buttigieg campaign staffers expressed anger and sadness after the incident.

Lis Smith, a senior aide for the Buttigieg campaign, tweeted that the protester was a supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir told NBC News that the campaign “does not support the disruption of any candidates’ events, and we condemn anyone who does so.”

Priscilla Thompson contributed.



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Nicola Sturgeon crisis: Scot leader admits party disputes a massive 'risk to SNP success'

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NICOLA Sturgeon has said the SNP needs to be united in its approach ahead of next year’s Holyrood elections.

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Eurocrats splurge £361k on medals to celebrate European Union – and Britons help pay

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EUROCRATS want to splash out £361,000 on medals to celebrate the European Union, Express.co.uk can reveal.

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Michigan Gov. Whitmer met with Biden as running mate announcement nears

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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer traveled to Delaware last weekend for a private meeting with former Vice President and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, two Democratic officials confirmed to NBC News.

News of the meeting was first reported earlier Friday by The Associated Press, which said that the meeting was Biden’s first known in-person session with a potential running mate.

The meeting lasted several hours, one of the two Democratic officials who confirmed the meeting said.

Biden had said he planned to make an announcement the first week in August, but aides later said that was unlikely. Whitmer declined to comment when asked about the meeting.

On Thursday, NBC News reported that Whitmer was among those still under serious consideration.

Democrats with knowledge of the process have said Whitmer did not recently re-emerge as a potential vice presidential pick but had long remained in Biden’s top tier.

Public speculation of a possible pick has also centered around Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., former national security adviser Susan Rice and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., also in the running.

Michigan is a battleground state, and President Donald Trump narrowly won it in the 2016 election by around 10,700 votes.

Whitmer has earned the respect of Biden officials for her role in responding to the coronavirus pandemic — at times in the face of protests that included demonstrations outside the state capitol building in which some protesters were armed, and a tweet by Trump that read “Liberate Michigan!” in capital letters.

She elevated her public profile earlier this year by battling with Trump over the federal response to the pandemic.

Senior Biden campaign officials have made clear again in recent days that they believe the COVID-19 pandemic combined with Trump’s management of the crisis and the resulting economic fallout is the central issue of the fall campaign.

Phil Helsel contributed.



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