OK. White guy here stepping into a racial issue: police shootings of unarmed black men. According to Politico, Julian Castro has “blindsided” Pete Buttigieg over accepting a donation from an infamous character in Chicago, a man by the name of Steve Patton. For those of you who don’t know Steve Patton or remember what he is known for, let’s take a stroll down memory lane.
In 2014, Luqan McDonald was a 17 year old black boy who was shot sixteen times by a Chicago police officer.
Police said at the time that McDonald was armed with a knife and “lunged” at officers. But the video, which was released over a year later after a judge's order, showed the teenager veering away when officer Jason Van Dyke fired sixteen shots at him. The knife he carried was a pocket knife.
The Chicago police closed ranks around Jason Van Dyke and called the shooting, “justifiable.” And Steve Patton was the city attorney who advised Mayor Rahm Emanual not to release the dashcam video that showed McDonald was not a threat to the police officers who confronted him.
Patton faced criticism over his handling of the matter. He advised against releasing the video until after an investigation was concluded — and after Emanuel survived a contentious mayoral runoff reelection. And emails released by the city show he was directly involved in managing the fallout as media interest grew and coordinated statements with the city's purportedly independent police oversight board.
One of Patton's top deputies attempted to get McDonald's family to agree to not release the footage during settlement talks, which the city entered into without the family filing suit. Patton also played a role in negotiating a $5 million settlement that was far less than what McDonald's family asked for.
The law department he oversaw was found to have withheld evidence during discovery in a more than a half-dozen of police misconduct cases.
Stellar guy Steve Patton.
Turns out that Steve Patton was one of the sponsors for a Buttigieg fundraiser on Friday:
It was only on Friday morning that Buttigieg realized that Steve Patton was involved with the cover up of Luqan McDonald’s murder. And it was murder. Jason Van Dyke has been sentenced to seven years in prison for 2nd degree murder.
And Steve Patton had written a check to Buttigieg for $5,600 dollars. Buttigieg is returning the money, and he dumped Steve Patton from the event.
Here is where I don’t get the blindsided bit by Julian Castro.
“I applaud Mayor Buttigieg for returning the contribution, but at a time where police violence remains such a critical issue, it shouldn’t take four months to return such a problematic contribution,” Castro wrote….
“While other campaigns focused on attacking bold ideas and the frontrunners in the last debate, I was the only one to highlight police violence, the shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, and I was the only candidate to point out the hypocrisy of letting ISIS fighters run free in Syria while keeping innocent children in cages at our southern border,” Castro wrote in the email.
Castro is responding to this screw up by Buttigieg. And there is no good way for Buttigieg to spin it. And he knows that.
Patton was to be a co-host of a Buttigieg fundraiser taking place Friday in Chicago, and Buttigieg said Friday that he only found out about Patton's involvement in the event Friday morning.
“I learned about it this morning and within about an hour of that, he's no longer involved in the event or the campaign,” Buttigieg told David Axelrod, former President Obama's chief campaign strategist and the head of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics Friday. Buttigieg said, “Transparency and justice for Laquan McDonald is a lot more important than a campaign contribution.”
If Julian Castro is correct that this donation has been in Buttigieg’s possession for 4 months, I don’t see how Castro is blindsiding Buttigieg. And I don’t think members of the black community in Chicago are going to buy that Buttigieg was blindsided by Castro.
“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,” said Charlene Carruthers, former head of Black Lives Matter group BYP100, which was instrumental in pushing for police reforms in the wake of the McDonald case.
“If they do know, it's indicative of so much of what we see with folks in the LGBTQ community — particularly white men who may hold a sexual identity, but their politics don't line up with the liberation of the people who are also in community with them.”
Buttigieg supporters may try to dismiss this incident, but it adds to a pattern with Buttigieg on racial issues. The black community in South Bend does not think highly of Mayor Pete, especially after dismissal of the black police chief and a police shooting of a black man in South Bend. I suppose the good news for Buttigieg is that so much of the Media has been focusing on the craziness of Trump and the slaughter of the Kurds. But Julian Castro noticed it, and I bet some others in black communities all over the U.S. may notice it as well.
I am just not sure if you can blindside someone who made such an obvious mistake.