The Democratic presidential candidate was at a “Fight for $15” rally when protestors with Black Voters Matter — a group dedicated to increasing the political power held by black communities — lambasted him for failing to raise the minimum wage in South Bend, Indiana, where he previously served as mayor.
Protestors began heckling Mr Buttigieg at the demonstration, according to Tampa Bay Times political editor Steve Contorno, chanting: “Where was $15 in South Bend. Pete can’t be our president.”
Mr Contorno, who attended the event on Monday afternoon, later tweeted: “Buttigieg had to race into a car after the rally as he was chased down by Black Voters Matter protesters.”
According to the editor, one Black Voters Matter protestor yelled at Mr Buttigieg: “This is a workers strike. How dare you.”
A campaign aide for Mr Buttigieg later noted to The Independent that local Indiana laws essentially bars South Bend from passing its own minimum wage ordinances.
The Fight for $15 rally is now being heckled with Buttigieg at front of it by Black Voters Matter protesters chanting “Where was $15 in South Bend. Pete can’t be our president.” The worker organizers are pissed.
“This is a workers strike. How dare you,” one yelled that them. pic.twitter.com/U8AYASqxht— Steve Contorno (@scontorno)February 24, 2020
Other activists with the group reportedly blasted the Democratic candidate for “using black workers as a photo op” as he marched with demonstrators at the Fight for $15 rally.
Mr Buttigieg was in South Carolina ahead of the state’s crucial primary vote on Saturday, working to garner support among the state’s sizable population of black voters.
The former mayor has struggled to build a diverse coalition of support throughout his candidacy, while Joe Biden remained largely popular among black Democratic voters in South Carolina throughout the campaign trail.
However, following the former vice president’s weak performance in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Mr Biden’s opponents have seen his support among minority communities in the state as potentially up for grabs.
Mr Buttigieg posed for photographs and held a large sign that read “Unions for All” during the demonstration, standing among a crowd of predominantly-black striking workers.
Mr Buttigieg addressed the crowd as he was heckled, according to Reuters, saying in a brief statement: “No matter who you support for president, I support you and I support unions and a $15 minimum wage.”
He then began nearly running towards his vehicle to avoid a confrontation with protestors, Reuters reported.
Mr Buttigieg proposed raising the minimum wage in South Bend to just $10.10 by 2018, and reportedly paid interns at his mayoral office that amount before launching his presidential bid. Since campaigning for the White House, Mr Buttigieg has announced his support for raising the minimum wage to $15.