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Petitioning for impeachment; community activist group marches

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Nearly six months into a scandal involving the police department and recorded telephone conversations that allegedly contain unethical, racial and possibly criminal content; a group of angry citizens are fed up with Mayor Buttigieg’s excuses and actions.

Buttigieg has claimed he wants to know what is on the tapes, but refuses to investigate them because he is afraid he could be charged with a crime for doing so.

His administration has spent the last six months, vilifying former Chief of Police Darryl Boykins and police department Communications Director Karen DePaepe for creating the cassette recordings of the conversations found on the recording system used to record radio transmissions, and various phone lines throughout the police department.

At first Buttigieg attempted to conceal the actions of Boykins and DePaepe saying it was a personnel matter.

He eventually explained his actions in demoting Boykins and firing DePaepe; to allegedly protect them from possibly criminal charges.

Almost from the start of this mess, Citizens United for a Better Government has been watching Buttigieg and disagreeing with how he is handling the scandal.

There was talk of pushing for his impeachment a few months ago, but the group backed away from moving forward with their plans after the Rainbow Push Coalition met with both sides.

Now, however, it seems that the gloves have come off and the activist group is serious about seeking the removal of South Bend’s second youngest Mayor.

Mario Sims, president of the group, insisted Tuesday evening that the people of South Bend deserved better leadership out of their mayor.

About two dozen people showed up to march to the County City Building and the Mayor’s offices, a stark drop in attendance from the last march the group organized where more than 200 showed up.

Attendance at CUBG events has been known to fluctuate, but their message remains constant. “We believe that this is hurtful to the City, that it’s divisive; and it’s just creating a lot of anger and people are very upset about this,” said Sims.

But some, mostly Buttigieg supporters, argue that it is the activist group that is creating an environment of anger and being divisive.

Either way, the group is seeking signatures for a petition to the Indiana State Legislature asking them to initiate impeachment proceedings against Buttigieg for malfeasance, or misconduct.

The activist group believes the mayor has lied to the people and is intentionally trying to keep the tapes from being played.

In their opinion it is important to know if high level members of local law enforcement were making unethical, racial or criminal comments.

The local Republican party has supported CUBG from the start, but are shying away from the impeachment side of things. “We want to do our duty and make sure that we have all the facts, make sure that we have exhausted every option, and so we are not quite ready to make that leap yet,” said Jacob Teshka, Executive Director for St. Joseph County Republican Party.

Still, according to Teshka, having the truth come out, one way or another, is vital for the community to begin the healing process. “It’s in everybodies interest to find out what’s on these tapes, because it points to a larger issue,” said Teshka.

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