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In Mayor Pete's South Bend, some black residents feel neglected

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on July 4, 2019 - Duration: 02:54s

In Mayor Pete's South Bend, some black residents feel neglected

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has prided himself for turning around the city of South Bend, Indiana, as mayor, but Reuters Correspondent Tim Reid spoke with black residents who live minutes away from the thriving downtown in the city's West Side where there are pot-holed streets, abandoned homes and the people there say they have been neglected by the mayor.

Colette Luke has more.

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In Mayor Pete's South Bend, some black residents feel neglected

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has boasted on the campaign trail about his economic transformation of his hometown- South Bend, Indiana, - during his time as the city's mayor.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE PETE BUTTIGIEG SAYING: "When I arrived people said this city was dying… we propelled our city's comeback by taking our eyes off the rearview mirror, being honest about change and insisting on a better future…") But just a few minutes away from the thriving downtown area, a big contrast --- South Bend's West Side - a predominately black neighborhood which is anything but thriving.

The streets are potholed and some homes are deserted... And an analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data reveals that residents here have become poorer since Buttigieg took over the city in 20-12… Reuters correspondent Tim Reid talked to residents and local activists who say they are feeling ignored by the mayor.

(SOUNDBITE) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT TIM REID SAYING: "There is a lot of people who are living here that I have been talking to who are angry at the mayor.

They feel that this neighborhood has been neglected..so there are parts of this city where the love for Buttigieg is not felt at all." (SOUNDBITE) SOUTH BEND RESIDENT CLARICE DAVIS SAYING: "It seems like they're neglecting the west side so that they can bring the property values down and buy us all out and then we're gonna put the money into it.

Don't try to move us out." (SOUNDBITE) ACTIVIST VERNADO MALONE SAYING: "Yeah, I would consider this the ghetto." Activist Vernado Malone also lives in the neighborhood and says he doesn't plan to vote for Buttigieg in the presidential election.

(SOUNDBITE) ACTIVIST VERNADO MALONE SAYING: "You see how abandoned houses are torn down/there is nobody on his team from this area, it's sad." But Buttigieg does have much to brag about as South Bend' Chief executive.

The city has seen five consecutive years of population gain after years of decline and unemployment in the city has been cut in half since he took office, with $1 billion dollars of investment flowing into the city.

As for the Census data, Buttiegieg's campaign says it offers an incomplete picture of the city.

At a national level, Buttigieg was has been praised for his presidential debate performance with his campaign on Monday announcing a huge fundraising haul of $24.8 million dollars in the past three months… Still the 37-year-old mayor is struggling to gain traction with black voters.

With tensions boiling after the fatal shooting of a black man by a white police officer last month, Buttigieg was booed by black audience members.

And during the debate, Buttigieg said he quote "failed" to make the police force more diverse and that more work needed to be done.

This week in Chicago, he told an audience of black voters that if he were elected president he would address systemic racism in the country: (SOUNDBITE) SOUTH BEND MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG SAYING: "This is an American problem, and it requires nationwide American solutions."

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