WATCH: Protester Interrupts Black Leader Supporting Mayor Pete, Almost Gets Brained with Cane


An event featuring local black leaders speaking in support of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg turned chaotic when a non-black protester grabbed the microphone to deride the officials, and nearly got a cane in the head for his trouble.

Wednesday’s press conference — which was promoted by Mayor Pete’s campaign, but was not an official campaign event — featured black leaders and elected officials from South Bend.

Councilwoman Karen White (D-At Large), Councilwoman Sharon McBride (D-3rd District), Gladys Muhammad, Hardie Blake, Pastor Michael Patton, and Rev. Rickardo Taylor attended the event, according to the campaign press release. Nine Buttigieg staffers were also reportedly in attendance.

Also in attendance were also a number of protesters with Black Lives Matter signs — some of whom sported campaign merchandise from the Bernie Sanders campaign — one of whom began to shout down Councilwoman McBride as she discussed some of Buttigieg’s policies.

“What about Chief Boykins?” interrupted a protester, referring to former South Bend Police Chief Darryl Boykins, who was fired by Buttigieg.

“I can handle that, I can handle it,” McBride said, gesturing to an organizer who had risen to address the disturbance.

But as she tried to continue, the protester began to demand “Release the tapes!”, a reference to the wiretaps over which Boykins was fired.

“I’ll address you guys in a few minutes if you give me the time and the respect, I will do the same thing,” McBride said.

“Where are the black leaders who don’t have three-piece suits, leather jackets, and nice jewelry?” the man, who was later identified as Igor Rodriguez, said, and added “Who chose these people as black leaders?”

As several people moved in to try and calm things down, one woman in the audience stood and advanced on Rodriguez with her cane raised high, but McBride and several others interceded. Rodriguez took that opportunity to snatch a microphone from the podium to shout about “these people.”

“Where are these black leaders? Who chose these people as black leaders?” Rodriguez shouted, as several people tried to get the mic back from him. “These black leaders are here to talk about Pete Buttigieg, when there is a black, we are having a crisis because of police violence. Who chose these people as black leaders? Who chose these people as the black leaders? Who organized this? We have a police crisis in this town. Why are you talking about Pete Buttigieg?”

Once the microphone was retrieved, Rodriguez began to chant “This is a farce!” as he was escorted out by Tyree Bonds, brother of the late Eric Logan, who was killed in an officer-involved shooting in South Bend.

As Rodriguez was escorted out, McBride said “I happen to be a black leader with a leather jacket on,” and added “one thing that you will not do with me is run me out of here.”

Several Buttigieg staffers tweeted about the disturbance, including Rapid Response Researcher Rodericka Applewhaite, who identified the cane-wielding audience member as Bernice Freeman.

Senior communications advisor Lis Smith called out the Sanders supporters for their role in the disruption, writing, “It’s deeply depressing that @BernieSanders’ supporters have gone from harassing @PeteButtigieg’s staffers of color online to harassing our supporters of color in real life, but here we are.”

Traveling Press Secretary Nina Smith wrote that “This is what Black folks who support Pete experience all the time on Twitter. White men, grabbing the mic, insulting us, calling us “uppity” “purchased” and “tokens” all in support of certain white male candidates. Careful YOUR racism is showing.”

Some Twitter users were quick to point out that Rodriguez is Latino, but Smith did not think that made it okay.

Mayor Pete has struggled mightily to attract the support of black voters, but the reaction to black people who do support Buttigieg has turned ugly, as Applewhaite noted. In another tweet, Lis Smith called out a journalist for promoting a tweet that called Nina Smith a “token black woman.”

Watch the clip above, via WSBT-TV.

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