Pete Buttigieg’s presidential campaign on Friday drew scathing criticisms from black activists for accepting donations from Steve Patton, a former Chicago attorney who directed efforts to delay the release of a video depicting the 2014 shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police office.
The city’s handling of the shooting resulted in a Department of Justice investigation, stirred months of protest, and resulted in an officer’s conviction.
“The worst case scenario is his people know and they just don’t care, or they don’t know and haven’t vetted him thoroughly,” Charlene Carruthers, the former head of a Black Lives Matter group that pushed for police reforms in the wake of the McDonald case, told The Associated Press after it was reported Friday that Patton was sponsoring a Chicago fundraiser for Buttigieg. “If they do know, it’s indicative of so much of what we see with folks in the LGBTQ community — particularly white men.”
Buttigieg’s campaign initially declined to comment on Patton’s participation in the fundraiser, but later released an apology in the face of public backlash. “He should adjust his schedule,” Reverend Jesse Jackson commented when initially told about the fundraiser.
“Transparency and justice for Laquan McDonald is more important than a campaign contribution,” Buttigieg spokesman Chris Meagher said. “We are returning the money [Steve Patton] contributed to the campaign and the money he has collected. He is no longer a co-host for the event and will not be attending.”
Buttigieg has faced questions about his record on race in the past, including this past summer, when the South Bend, Ind. mayor was accused of “lying” by constituents over a police shooting and was accused of handling the situation “solely for his political gain and not for the health of the city he serves” by the South Bend Fraternal Order of Police.
In May, Buttigieg polled at zero percent among black voters in South Carolina.