Backers of Mayor Pete Buttigieg's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination held an event yesterday in the candidate's hometown of South Bend, Indiana. Sharon McBride, a black member of city council and who supports Buttigieg's bid, was there to push back against the notion that black people disapprove of the mayor.
Her remarks were interrupted by protesters affiliated with Black Lives Matter. One of the protesters, who appeared to be a white man, marched to the front of the room, seized the microphone from McBride, and started haranguing the audience.
"Who chose these people as black leaders?" the activist asked. "Who organized this? Why are we talking about Pete Buttigieg? What kind of nonsense is this?"
He then led protesters in a chant of "this is a farce."
One event attendee who did not appreciate the activist's antics raised her cane as if to strike him but was restrained by others. A local reporter captured the interaction on video:
There was just a major ruckus at this event with prominent African-American leaders that are supporting Mayor @PeteButtigieg. People who appear to be from Black Live Matter stole the mic from councilwoman Sharon McBride pic.twitter.com/OpONPL3bo5
— Max Lewis (@MaxLewisTV) December 4, 2019
Several of the Black Lives Matter activists were black. But since the main player was white, the irony was not lost on Twitter observers:
White Black Lives Matter protestor disrupts black speaker is a very 2020 Democratic primary mood. https://t.co/VQH0oqz1G0
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) December 5, 2019
According to BuzzFeed:
Many of the roughly 60 people who attended—many of them black—cheered or nodded along at positive mentions of Buttigieg. They also rolled their eyes or voiced their displeasure with each interruption from the dozen Black Lives Matter protesters who lined the back wall.
Afterward, McBride told BuzzFeed News the confrontation was "disheartening" and "disrespectful." She said she hadn't realized the man was wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt.
"You respect people's opinions, and we respect theirs," she said.
The episode highlights the hypocrisy of many intersectional activists (a major theme of my book Panic Attack). They often claim that the marginalized are the sole experts on their own oppression and thus are the only people allowed to speak on issues related to it; white people, they say, should step back and let black people talk about racism. But in practice, few activists can keep quiet while someone else is touting a candidate the activist perceives to be insufficiently radical.