“You go into my community, and you see all the homelessness, abandoned buildings, kids and parents starving,” Tyree Bonds, Logan’s brother, said outside a crowded city council meeting on Monday night. “They’re struggling, and that’s where a lot of the anger comes from.”
In his eight years in the mayor’s office, the even-keeled and technocratic Buttigieg has helped revitalize parts of this diverse Rust Belt city of 100,000, overseeing a $200 million investment in the downtown area and helping attract a wave of commercial development that includes new apartments, office parks, restaurants and coffee shops.
But that economic boom, according to one 2017 study, has not necessarily lifted up all of South Bend’s residents and neighborhoods. The study, commissioned by the city, found that the jobless rate among African-Americans was still nearly twice as high as it was for white residents — despite a general citywide dip in unemployment.
The study also found that some 40 percent of the city’s African-American community still struggled with poverty.
“South Bend has pockets of success, but there is a whole culture of people in this city who just do not feel heard,” said Tiana Waddell, a community activist who attended the testy town hall event on Sunday night.
And yet Waddell, 40, who said she voted for Buttigieg during his first run for mayor, said she was “not angry at Pete at all.” Instead, she added, “I’m looking to him to have a solution.”
Antonius Northern, a 36-year-old activist, said he felt more animosity toward the municipal government as whole than with Buttigieg as a person. But he implored the mayor, who is gay, to approach issues of racial inequality “with the same fervor” he uses when talking about LGBTQ+ rights.
Buttigieg, for his part, has expressed concern about his municipality’s relationship with people of color, saying earlier this month that “we have innumerable moments in which racial injustice came at the hands of those trusted with being instruments of justice.” Buttigieg’s office and a spokesman for his presidential campaign did not immediately return phone calls from NBC News requesting comment on Tuesday.
He acknowledged Sunday that his administration had fallen short when it came to recruiting more minority officers to the police department and introducing body cameras across the city. The prosecutors investigating said that the shooting was not recorded by O’Neill’s body camera.
The mayor also said he would write the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to request a federal probe of the shooting and that he wanted an independent investigator appointed. On Monday, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Kenneth Cotter filed a petition asking a judge to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the June 16 incident. Bonds, 52, Logan’s brother said he was pleased that a special prosecutor had been requested.
“He’s going to get the truth,” Bonds said. “That’s what we want. Wherever [the truth] goes. The truth is going to come out.”
Logan’s family gathered for lunch on Tuesday afternoon at the Sunrise Cafe. Leh’Tika McMorris, Logan’s sister, remembered her brother as a well-liked and reliable man who would be dearly missed by his children.
McMorris, who lives in Texas and works with the homeless population there, said her family was dismayed to discover graffiti vandalism at a vigil near the parking lot where her brother was shot. The graffiti said “GOOD SHOOT.”
As for the ambitious politician known here and throughout much of the country as “Mayor Pete,” McMorris said her family does not blame him for the social and political circumstances that she believes led to her brother’s death, saying the mayor “came into a corrupt system.”
In a statement, South Bend Police Department spokesman Ken Garcia said in part: “We believe that the overall quality of life for all residents will improve through the deterrence of criminal activity and an understanding of the diversity of cultures within this community. We also work to build and sustain community-police relationships to advance a culture of trust and inclusion.”