Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg marches with South Carolina McDonald’s workers as they demonstrate for a $15 an hour wage and the right to form a workers union. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
As the car door swung open, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg fled inside after being hounded by Black Voters Matter activists at a minimum wage rally in South Carolina, US on Sunday.
The former South Bend, Indiana mayor had thrusted himself into a “Fight for $15” rally, where McDonald’s workers were loudly striking over raising their minimum wage. Fast-food workers and civil rights activist were calling on the chain for the right to unionise.
Chants of “We work! We sweat, put $15 on our check!” echoed down the thoroughfare, where more than 100 people clogged West Lincoln Avenue.
Bulky cameras and and microphones could be seen hovering above the heads of protesters as photographers rammed themselves into the march to take photographs of Buttigieg.
Yet Buttigieg, who positioned himself centre of the rally holding a large banner, found his own chants drowned by the sounds of counter-protesters.
“Pete can’t be our president!” a cluster of counter-protesters shouted. “Where was $15 in South Bend?”
“Pete can’t be our president, where was $15 in South Bend?”
Counter protestors at the Fight for $15 rally in Charleston have, uhh, an issue with Pete’s photo op appearance pic.twitter.com/YJbcxK0lU3
— sweatshirt materialist (@blunderwhelming) February 24, 2020
Black Voters Matter is a group dedicated to increasing the political power wielded by Black communities, a demographic that Buttigieg has struggled to court throughout his campaign.
Buttigieg has been troubled by lacklustre polling rates among black voters. His liability of lacking support among Black and young voters has come to the forefront of his campaign as caucuses enter more racially diverse states.
And that gap is one that Black Voters Matter aimed to highlight.
Tampa Bay Times political editor Steve Contorno described that one member of the group accused Buttigieg of “using black workers as a photo op”.
Others jeered: “This is a worker’s strike, how dare you!”
Pete Buttigieg fled rally after being hounded by critics.
Buttigieg said: “No matter who you support, I support you, were support you, we stand together and we will not rest until one job is enough in the United States of America.”
Interrupting the speech, however, came a chorus of chants and barbed questions from bitter Black Youth Project 100 activists. Some furiously decried Buttigieg for not supporting a raised minimum wage during his terms as mayor.
Some flagged that some South Bend city jobs pay less than $15. In 2016, Buttigieg was able to get minimum wage for city employees raised to $10.10 an hour.
But state law prevented local municipalities from instituting higher minimum wage for all businesses, however.
The protecters pelted Buttigieg until he cut his presence at the protest short after five minutes and dashed into an SUV. Driving away, a coterie of chanting counter-protesters and reporters chased behind the vehicle.
Buttigieg was in South Carolina ahead of the state’s crucial primary vote Saturday. Working to sweep up support form the state’s sizeable black population.