South Bend tapes controversy newly relevant amid Pete Buttigieg’s rise

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The highly contested and litigated controversy hinges on the contents of five tapes of recorded phone conversations inside the South Bend police department and allegations that the tapes contain racist comments made by a group of officers about former Police Chief Darryl Boykins, who is black. According to court documents, copies of the recordings were made at Boykins’ request. Few others have heard the recordings, but that might change as a state court is set to weigh in on whether the tapes can be made public.

Buttigieg has made clear throughout the years-long controversy that he has never listened to and doesn’t know what is on the tapes in question.

Buttigieg, then months into his first term as mayor in 2012, asked Boykins to resign over the tapes matter as authorities investigated allegations that Boykins threatened subordinates, both state and federal investigations ended without charges. After initially agreeing to step down, Boykins — who was the city’s first ever African American police chief — rescinded his resignation and vowed to fight it.

That fight — along with subsequent settlements and lawsuits to get the tapes released publicly — has dragged on for seven years.

St. Joseph County Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler is soon slated to decide whether the tapes can be released to the public. The South Bend Common Council — the city’s city council — subpoenaed the tapes from the city in 2012 after a group of activists and council members grew worried about…



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