Actor Jeffrey Wright took to Twitter Tuesday to slam Democratic presidential Pete Buttigieg for his alleged placement of black supporters during an Iowa caucus rally on Monday night, Breitbart reports.
During Buttigieg’s televised speech, the first row of supporters behind him was entirely African American and occupied the center of the TV screen. Given the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor’s struggle with black support, Wright appears to be implying that the placement of backers at the event was strategic.
“Stacking black folks behind your candidate at the speech is basically ‘F*ck you, black America, you’re an idiot,” Wright tweeted.
“Iowa’s the new black or what’s going on back there?” he added.
Wright wasn’t the only one to voice skepticism of Buttigieg’s optics at the rally. CNN political commentator Keith Boykin noted that all of the African American supporters appeared to be “strategically positioned” behind him so that they can be captured in the camera’s view.
Hollywood film executive Franklin Leonard echoed Boykin’s comment.
“My compliments to whomever had the discipline to stage, by my count, six young black women supporters directly behind @PeteButtigieg for his #IowaCaucuses speech tonight.”
A recent report from The New York Times spotlighted the Buttigieg campaign’s challenges by covering a diversity and inclusion retreat that revealed the concerns of people of color. One claimed that such staffers carried an “emotional weight” in the face of the campaign’s diversity targets. In a follow-up meeting, which The New York Times said got emotional at times, another said they felt disrespected by their white colleagues.
Per NewsOne, Buttigieg has gained some backing from prominent African Americans. South Bend Democratic Party Chair Gladys Muhammed reportedly attended the event for the purpose of touting such support.
“The national media says blacks in South Bend don’t support Pete Buttigieg. Here I am. Black and I’m proud!”
According to Nina Smith, the Buttigieg campaign’s traveling press secretary, the black women pictured in the recent rally have been supportive of the former mayor for the duration of his rising campaign.
“The women behind Pete stood together as they have this entire campaign. And once again, their voice, their CHOICE, is erased. Really?” she tweeted.
Although the official Iowa caucus results have yet to be released, Buttigieg claimed victory regardless. The decision led to a backlash from many and drove the #MayorCheat hashtag into the top Twitter trend on Monday and Tuesday morning.
The former South Bend mayor’s alleged donation to Shadow — the company that developed the app reportedly behind the delay — has also caused scrutiny.