Racial Equity, South Bend, and The Douglass Plan

From Wiki-PETE-ia


Pete Buttigieg was elected mayor of South Bend, Indiana in 2011 at the age of 29. He took office Jan 2012. He was reelected for a second term in 2015. During his seven years as mayor, he's dealt with many urgent issues including plummeting urban and economic decline, an initial per capita income average of $18,000, rebuilding the downtown into a family- and business-friendly space, bringing in new tech jobs[1], and restoring hope and pride to the city.[2][3]

One of the most tenacious problems Buttigieg inherited was deeply-rooted racism in everything from economic opportunity and disparate incomes to city policing. While initially focused on bringing the city back, economically, from being one of "America's Ten Dying Cities"[4], the underlying racial problems in the city became more apparent as it grew clear that the city was making a remarkable comeback--but not all of its citizens were benefiting. In his second term, Buttigieg began to focus more fully on issues of racial equity.

South Bend acted as a kind of fulcrum in which Buttigieg investigated and implemented policies that became the seeds of his Douglass Plan.


"It's really been a function of experience. Seeking to lead well in a community where these systemic inequities have held people back. And every time we tried to solve a very narrow or specific problem, I felt like I was tugging on a thread that lead to something much bigger... America as a whole is worse off when these inequities exist." (VIDEO)


NOTE: The facts in this section are from this Medium article and this Reddit post. Also this Twitter thread and this one and this one. This list does not include every initiative in South Bend, only the ones the researchers could find.

From 2012:

1. Diversified city admin staff. Buttigieg hired six new employees to the city admin who were women or people of color. They comprise 37.5 percent of the mayor’s direct report staff. The national benchmark is 36.7 and Indiana regional benchmark is 22.1 percent. Buttigieg would like it to be higher. Increasing government-wide representation of underrepresented populations continues to be an ongoing goal.[5]


2. Supported election of first minority woman in executive office in South Bend. During his 2015 election, Buttigieg instructed his campaign team to use his re-election TV spots to help local Black leader Kareemah Fowler win her bid for City Clerk and become the first minority in St. Joseph County to seat a full-time executive office.[6][7]


3. Started The Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Launched January 2016. Buttigieg hired Christina Brooks to lead it. This office was empowered to initiate a number of policies and programs on this list including with the police department.[5].

4. Issued an Executive Order to promote diversity and inclusion within city government. At the launch of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Buttigieg directed department leaders to evaluate the city’s current policies and develop a plan to promote more diversity and inclusion within city government.[8]

5. Worked with La Casa de Amistad to set up local IDs for undocumented residents. The IDs allowed undocumented to access basic services without fear of being deported.[9] He also signed an Executive Order forcing local banks and businesses to accept the card.[10]

6. Commissioned the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative, a report on South Bend’s wealth inequality, through national advocacy group Prosperity NOW.[11] Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, the researcher who compiled the Prosperity Now report, praised Buttigieg’s efforts and said he was the first mayor of any city to ask him to do this. “He didn’t solve racial economic inequality,” said Asante-Muhammad, “but what city has?”[12]

7. Held seminars that gave neighborhood leaders the tools to identify the existing talents and skills of residents and connect them into business opportunities. This effort was based on the results of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative.[13]

8. Started a "Youth Task Force". This brought together youth from different backgrounds to work on community projects and prep them for getting involved in politics and government. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he wanted the city’s youth to be united. Sounds like a very early trial of his National Service Program. [14][15]

9. Brought Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" program to South Bend. The program aims to to help at risk youth and steer them away from violence and crime. [16]


10. Started The Division of Engagement and Economic Empowerment. "Already the division has hosted an Inclusive Economies Summit with the Federal Reserve of Chicago; joined the regional Bank On Alliance to connect low- and moderate-income residents with credit and banking services; collaborated with community organizations and stakeholders on a qualitative housing study; and organized a community organizing training session with the Near Northwest Side Neighborhood to promote engagement and civic leadership. Residents and our business community can expect to see continued focus on making sure that we have not just good topline numbers on the economy, but a real track record of making residents from all walks of life better off."[17]

VIDEO: "City of South Bend Diversity & Inclusive Procurement"

11. Funded the West Side Small Business Resource Center. This is the first in a series of community centers aimed at lifting minority entrepreneurs and generating new wealth in underserved areas.[18]

12. South Bend awarded a $50k CommunityWINS grant. South Bend was one of six cities to receive the grant to fund a minority and women contractor training program. The grant funds were used to create and operate a year-long program of training and certification for minority and women contractors in areas including business planning, contract law, insurance and bonding, lead certification, project cash flow, and other topics designed to equip small business contractors.[19]

13. Empowered the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to ensure government contracts targeted minority- and women-owned businesses. Also commissioned a study of current practices to ensure progress and accountability in giving more contracts to these businesses.[20]

14. Improved and expanded the Charles Black Community Center.Buttigieg was asked for $3 million and instead approved a $4.4 million dollar grant to improve the facility. It now offers computer labs, sports facilities, and other resources for youth in a low-income area of the city.[21] (Tweet with photos)

15. Opened a CLICK Center in the new Charles Black Community Center. This is part of an effort by the City of South Bend aimed at growing digital inclusion and helping community members gain the technology and digital literacy skills necessary to thrive.[22]

16. Offered city grants to minority-owned businesses to improve and grow.[23].

17. Governing magazine named the City of South Bend a high performer in the “Race-Informed” category. “Rooted in an understanding that government at all levels has played a role in creating and maintaining racial inequity, resulting in a lack of access and opportunity for people of color in everything from education and employment to housing and healthcare, these cities seek to redress structural racism through an analysis of their own operations and make necessary changes in policy and practice.”[24]


18. South Bend was awarded a $50k Inclusive Procurement Grant (one of ten cities) based on South Bend’s pursuit of innovative strategies to leverage public purchasing power in order to develop firms owned by people of color. Local initiatives range from implementing aggressive outreach strategies, developing procurement portals and creating an ecosystem of support services for firms owned by people of color to increase their opportunities to gain city contracts.[25]

19. Launched the South Bend Home Repair program. This program makes over $1 million available for neighborhood upgrades. "These resources will reinforce the work of our new Office of Engagement and Economic Empowerment, which exists to promote community action and dialogue on inclusion and economic mobility, taking on efforts ranging from reducing eviction rates to improving access to capital."[26] This is also called the LOVE YOUR BLOCK program. See video here.

20. Signed into law the new Rental Safety Verification Program (RSVP). This program allows the City to proactively address violations in rental housing that can cause health issues and safety concerns for residents.[26]

21. Joined the 10-Minute Walk initiative. This initiative challenges cities to ensure that all residents are within ten minutes on foot of quality green space. South Bend is on track to reach 80 percent access by the end of 2020.[26]


1. Buttigieg joined the "Mayors Against Illegal Guns" in Jan 2013. "Joined bipartisan Mayors Against Illegal Guns to do something about need for common sense gun safety.[27]

2. Pete took members of South Bend's Anti-Violence Commission to NY for crime-reduction training from famed criminologist David M. Kennedy, the developer of "Operation Ceasefire" (2013). A program based on the program was implemented in South Bend later that same year.[28]

3. Set up diversity goals with South Bend PD. VIDEO - Excellent TV series from 2015 discussing the goals for diversity in the South Bend PD and the challenges in recruiting. (PART 1, PART 2, PART 3)

4. Made PD applications available online in 2014. The aim was to ease the process of applying to the PD for minorities.[29]

5. Implemented Bias, Civil Rights and Diversity training programs for officers. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion administered the Diversity Awareness Profile and the Harvard Implicit Bias Test to officers.[30] Instituted Implicit Bias Training for South Bend’s police force. Instituted Civil Rights Training for South Bend’s police force.[31] Instituted workshops on: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Understanding the Human Brain and Implicit Bias; and Micro-aggression and Micro-affirmation. Tied the principals of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into the Workplace Handbook.

6. Worked with Police Department to focus on Community Policing: Created “Cultural Competency” calendars; Hosted monthly “Diversity Dialogue Lunches”; Held Law Enforcement and Local Men of Color small group summits; Held neighborhood Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshops; Hosted Unity Summits focused on “sharing your stories”; And implemented a Job Shadowing rotation program. Other efforts included the South Bend Police Athletic League, which saw over 1000 kids play sports with officers, and Cops & Goblins Trick or Treat night.[26]

7. Saw a third reduction in use of force incidents. Buttigieg noted in his 2018 state of the city address that officers conducted “7,000 foot patrols, attended 168 neighborhood meetings, and conducted ‘Coffee with a Cop’ outreach opportunities around our community.” As a result of this and other initiatives, he said, “the number of incidents leading to a use of force has gone down by a third in the last four years, and the number of investigations and complaints against police officers has fallen dramatically.”[32]

8. Oversaw a slate of changes to ensure accountability for officers. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion helped design, customize, and successfully implement a new Staff Performance Evaluation system, and instituted annual departmental diversity and inclusion goals.[30]

9. Invested $1.5 million to get new body cameras and upgrade vehicle dash cameras. The goal was to ensure safety and accountability for both residents and officers.[33]

10. Pushed for total transparency on officer use of force. Instituted South Bend Police’s “Open Data Hub”[34], an online transparency database, so any resident can easily get data on crime statistics, case reports (including the number of times police had to use force when answering a call), and shows both officer complaints and compliments. The transparency hub was noted for being very advanced for a city of South Bend’s size.[35]

11. Buttigieg appointed an African-American majority on the civilian Board of Public Safety. (3 out of 4 positions; 1 currently vacant). All police firings and disciplinary action must be made by the civilian Board of Public Safety under Indiana law. In order to ensure public trust and accountability, Buttigieg appointed a minority majority. [36], [37]

12. Placed an emphasis on diversity recruitment initiatives in the police force. Designed, customized, and successfully implemented a new Career Path Development system.[38]

13. Launched the “Home Grown Project.” This is a nomination process for local residents and particularly students of color (Phase 1 is currently underway).[38]

14. Stepped up diversity recruiting efforts through transparency and offering training for tests. The city publicly released all data on their diversity recruiting efforts on the front page of the SBPD website.[39] When the data suggested that minority applicants often dropped out before the physical test, the SBPD began to offer a practice physical test prior to the official test.[40]

15. Launched the South Bend Group Violence Intervention (SBGVI). The SBGVI “unites community leaders around a common goal: to stop gun violence and keep South Bend’s highest risk citizens alive and out of prison.”[41] The program aims to reduce violence by providing member of street groups avenues to succeed. Buttigieg fought to ensure continued funding and expansion of the program in the city’s 2019 budget.[42]

16. Adopted and implemented the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiative (JDAI). This is a pilot program which works to improve lock-up conditions while vetting the types of kids needing to be detained. The model is now operating in nearly 300 counties nationwide, often dramatically reducing detention facility populations.[43]

17. Instituted ShotSpotter technology. This tech utilizes a series of acoustic sensors throughout the city that allows police to pinpoint and react to gunshots almost immediately.[44]

18. South Bend Common Council unanimously passed the Gun Violence Prevention Resolution. This 2017 resolution calls on federal and state lawmakers to require background checks for all gun sales and close loopholes that give certain domestic abusers easy access to guns. The vote was praised by Moms Demand Action and Everytown Survivor Network.[45]*

19. Buttigieg upgraded the city's bodycam tech to turn on the bodycam when a gun is removed from its holster. This upgrade was ordered in July 2019 after a police officer failed to turn on his bodycam during the fatal shooting of Eric Logan. This tech was not available when the city originally purchased the bodycams.[46]

20. Instigated a series of community meetings to get feedback from residents on how to improve police policy and community relations.[47] 2019. These meetings are ongoing.

21. Efforts to diversify the South Bend Police Department expanded. At a press conference on Aug 1, 2019 with the police chief, Buttigieg outlined new initiatives to recruit minority officers including outreach to schools, churches, and a general call for city residents to recommend people to the department. He also reminded residents of free training to help recruits pass the physical exam. They are piloting a new initiative to work with high school seniors who are interested in law enforcement. Although police officers must be 21 years of age, they are looking at ways to engage younger people in non-officer jobs as a pathway into the force. [48]

22. Community Advisory Group initiated. After the shooting of Eric Logan in Jun 2019, Mayor Buttigieg and the Board of Public Safety initiated a series of community meetings to have "the important conversations & education around law enforcement and our community."[49] Twitter pictures on the Body Cam policy meeting. And the meeting on vehicular pursuit policy. As a result, "Among black respondents, the trust score rose 10 points from 48 this summer to 58 now. Elucd points to the series of community meetings with South Bend Police as a major factor in this rise in trust."[50]


Buttigieg is the first to acknowledge that he has not solved racial inequity in South Bend. However, it is South Bend that taught him the depth of the issues involved and how broad the approach must be to truly address racial inequality at the root. As a mayor, and one who makes himself available to have his ear bent by his constituents, Buttigieg has seen the racial divisions in our country first-hand in a way few politicians do. As a both compassionate and pragmatic leader, he's felt a personal responsibility for fixing it. The Douglass Plan is a direct result of this boots-on-the-ground experience.

He is committed to implementing The Douglass Plan as President. His experience in South Bend has given him a boots-on-the-ground, realistic understanding of the complexity of these issues--and also an awareness of how crucial they are to solve.

"The force that came the closest to ending American was white supremacy. That was the civil war. And I am worried that in different ways we may not be able to imagine, in the 21st century, if these inequalities keep getting worse, then that could once again threaten to unravel the American project. The levels of inequality we're seeing — much of it driven by racial inequality — are something that very few countries can survive intact. And if we don't all come together to deal with this — not as an issue for some, but as an issue for us all — then I worry that the entire American project will be weighed down." (VIDEO)


The Douglass Plan is "a comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems combined with an equally intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans. It includes reforming broken criminal justice and health systems, strengthening access to credit and injecting capital into the Black community, and taking bold steps toward fulfilling long-broken promises of true equity."[51]

Buttigieg compares the plan's scope to The Marshall Plan, which was created to rebuild Europe after World War II." In this case, the aim of the Douglass Plan is to rebuild black America after decades of damage caused by systemic racism.

Policy advisors on the plan include Chike Aguh, future of work expert and educator, and Portia Allen Kyle, criminal justice expert and public interest lawyer.[51] Additionally, Buttigieg reached out to the Douglass family[52] and consulted with black leaders around the country and with his black constituents back home. The plan was formed out Buttigieg's experience as mayor South Bend and from his long-held liberal, democratic values.[53][54].

The Douglass Plan "reflects a fundamental belief about racial justice in America: not only that it is right to remedy centuries of dehumanization and discrimination in and of itself, but also that when Black Americans live in freedom and justice, all Americans have greater opportunities to live in freedom and justice."[51]

The full 18-page plan can be downloaded as a pdf here.

(VIDEO:)Mayor Pete Buttigieg gives a speech on The Douglass Plan at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Push Coalition.


The Douglass Plan was released Jul 2, 2019. Here are some of the responses so far.

  • In October, 2019, the campaign announced that over 400 South Carolinians endorsed The Douglass Plan. The number included Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist Pastor and State Rep. Ivory Thigpen.[55]
  • Kenneth B. Morris, Jr., a descendent of both Douglass & Booker T. Washington, tweeted: ".@PeteButtigieg is very serious about the Douglass plan. His campaign reached out to us early on and has asked for our feedback."[52]
  • Yusef Jackson, Jesse Jackson's son, said: “I have never heard the story of the African American opportunity & struggle stated more clearly, w/ problems & respective solutions, that I have heard today. I think he is setting a bar for candidates in their understanding and articulation of these specific American issues.”[56]
  • Dr. Jason Johnson, MSNBC pundit, said of the Douglass Plan "I'm very impressed, and I'm surprised."[57]
  • Wilson Cruz, actor, tweeted that the Douglass Plan "is the most impressive and most comprehensive response to the inequities here."[58]
  • Dr. Joshua B. Hoe, host of "Decarceration Nation" podcast tweets: "The Mayor Pete plan is MUCH more comprehensive than the others and incorporates the most important portions of the other plans."[59]
  • Ameshia Cross, political commentator, tweets: "Person of color here, I rock w/ @PeteButtigieg. We are at a pivotal point where race relations are rightfully at the forefront. They can be tricky waters to navigate but Mayor Pete has a plan to move the nation forward & his Douglass Plan is just what the Black community needs."[60]
  • Craig Buckser, Public Defender, tweets: "I'm a public defender who works on capital appeals, & the Douglass Plan's criminal-justice reform section blew me away. I never thought I'd see a competitive presidential candidate advocate these proposals."[61]
  • And more Tweets on The Douglass Plan. [62][63][64][65]

Also see this ARTICLE & VIDEO - "What People Are Saying About Mayor Pete’s Douglass Plan for Black America" from purposefullyawakened.com


  1. New America: South Bend Reinventing a Dying City
  2. Wired: Pete Buttigieg Revived South Bend With Tech. Next Up: America
  3. Fusion: Saving America's Dying Cities (Video)
  4. 2011 Newsweek: America's Dying Cities
  5. 5.0 5.1 South Bend Tribune: "City taking steps to build diversity"
  6. Kareemah Fowler tweets about Mayor Pete's support
  7. ABC57: "City Clerk: Spread the message of diversity during Black History Month"
  8. Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Executive Order on Diversity
  9. South Bend Tribune: "South Bend ID cards aim to ease life for undocumented immigrants"
  10. NBC News: "Pete Buttigieg's big accomplishment that he never mentions on the campaign trail"
  11. ABC47: "South Bend community group to host meeting about racial wealth divide"
  12. Time Magazine: "Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Unlikely, Untested, Unprecedented Presidential Campaign"
  13. South Bend Tribute: "South Bend project hopes to grow small businesses and target racial wealth divide"
  14. ABC57: "South Bend mayor starts Youth Task Force"
  15. City of Sound Bend Youth Task Force Facebook page
  16. WSBT: "South Bend sees success in young boys, men of color through 'My Brother's Keeper' alliance"
  17. South Bend Tribute: "South Bend to keep fighting for the best future for the next generation"
  18. South Bend Tribune: "New business center in South Bend aims to lift minority entrepreneurs"
  20. ABC57: "Breaking down South Bend's Diversity Purchasing Report"
  21. ABC57: "Charles Black Community Center unveiled Thursday, community relfects on legacy and future"
  22. Medium.com: "Charles Black Recreation Center Re-opens After $4.4 Million Renovation"
  23. La Rosita on Western Ave in South Bend tweets about grant money
  24. South Bend Government Website post on "Race-Informed City" designation
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 South Bend Government Website: Buttigeig's 2019 State of the City Address
  27. Marie Claire: Pete Buttigieg on Gun Reform, Universal Background Checks, and Banning AR-15s
  28. South Bend Tribune: City plans to implement ‘Operation Ceasefire’
  29. WSBT: "City leaders: Lack of diversity plaguing South Bend Police Department"
  30. 30.0 30.1 Christina Brooks, South Bend's Diversity and Inclusion Officer, emails list of efforts made to combat racism in the PD
  31. Ebony: "Q&A with Mayor Pete Buttigieg about his plans for communities of color"
  32. Mayor Pete Buttigieg: 2018 State of the City Address
  33. WSBT: "Officers in South Bend are getting new body cameras and car cameras"
  34. South Bend Police Department website: Transparency Hub
  35. WSBT: "South Bend launches new data hub with crime stats"
  36. Lawservicer.com "Indiana Code 36-8-3-4. Police officers and firefighters; discipline, demotion, and dismissal; hearings; appeals; administrative leave"
  37. Politico: "What Mayor Pete Couldn’t Fix About the South Bend Cops"
  38. 38.0 38.1 Christina Brooks, Diversity and Inclusion Officer email "more" efforts taken with PD
  39. South Bend Police Department website -- https://police.southbendin.gov/
  40. South Bend Tribune: "Our Opinion: Recruiting minority police officers must remain a priority for South Bend"
  41. South Bend Government Website "SOUTH BEND GROUP VIOLENCE INTERVENTION"
  42. ABC57: "Proposed city budget leaving room from group violence intervention"
  43. South Bend Tribune: "St. Joseph County youth detention alternative gets grant"l
  44. WSBT: "ShotSpotter: South Bend Police say technology helping 'solve crime'"
  45. Everytown.org: "Gun Violence Survivor, Indiana Moms Demand Action Applaud South Bend Common Council for Unanimously Passing Gun Violence Prevention Resolution"
  46. South Bend Tribuine: "South Bend police getting body camera upgrades to activate when gun is drawn"
  47. City of South Bend - Community Meetings announcement
  48. WVPE: Mayor Buttigieg and Police Chief Give Update on Police Recruitment
  49. Laura O'Sullivan tweet with photos from the first meeting
  50. ABC57: Results from South Bend policing survey released
  51. 51.0 51.1 51.2 Pete For America Website: The Douglass Plan
  52. 52.0 52.1 Kenneth B. Morris tweet on Buttigieg reaching out to Douglass family.
  53. Pete speaks at a march for Trayvon Martin in 2012 (VIDEO)
  54. Buttigieg speaks at protest against Muslim ban at airport in 2017 (VIDEO)
  55. HCBU Times: More Than 400 South Carolinians Endorse Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Douglass Plan for Black America
  56. South Bend Tribune: Pete Buttigieg says he'd help empower African-Americans economically as president
  57. Joy Behar show video clip from Jul 22, 2019
  58. Wilson Cruz tweets about The Douglass Plan
  59. Joshua B. Hoe tweets about The Douglass Plan
  60. Ameshia Cross tweets about The Douglass Plan
  61. Craig Buckser, public defender, tweets about The Douglass Plan
  62. Maddie Lee tweets about the Douglass Plan
  63. Jac Archer tweets about the Douglass Plan
  64. ShoShoShawna tweets about The Douglass Plan
  65. Rennan Jil tweets about The Douglass Plan