Everyone’s favorite South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg addressed his earlier use of the phrase “All Lives Matter” on Thursday, saying he didn’t realize at the time that it was meant as a specific retort to the Black Lives Matter movement.
On Wednesday, CNBC reported Buttigieg had said “All Lives Matter” in a speech in 2015 that addressed two local controversies involving the police.
In the speech, Buttigieg referenced his administration’s refusal to release recordings of the city’s police as evidence in a legal dispute, as well as the City Council’s request that a local cop stop selling shirts that made light of the killing of Eric Garner in 2014. Here were Buttigieg’s remarks from the speech, via CNBC (emphasis mine):
“There is no contradiction between respecting the risks that police officers take every day in order to protect this community, and recognizing the need to overcome the biases implicit in a justice system that treats people from different backgrounds differently, even when they are accused of the same offenses,” Buttigieg said at the time.
“We need to take both those things seriously, for the simple and profound reason that all lives matter,” he said.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, however, Buttigieg insisted he didn’t realize the phrase began as a response to Black Lives Matter voicing concerns about police brutality and cops’ excessive use of force in policing communities of color.
“What I did not understand at the time was that phrase... was coming to be viewed as a sort of counter-slogan to ‘Black Lives Matter,’” Buttigieg said. “And so this statement that seems very anodyne and something that nobody could be against actually wound up being used to devalue what the Black Lives Matter movement was telling us.”
Listen, man. We don’t really need you to tell us what “all lives matter” means and the harm inherent in ignoring what police are doing in black communities and communities of color—clearly we knew. We just want to know why you didn’t, and why it took you so long to figure it out.