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stated on March 26, 2024 in an X post:
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg blamed the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s collapse on “racism.”
true false
Loreben Tuquero
By Loreben Tuquero March 27, 2024

Pete Buttigieg didn't blame Baltimore bridge collapse on racism. This clip is from 2021

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  • Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s quote on infrastructure with racist design choices was from 2021, not after the Francis Scott Key Bridge’s collapse March 26 in Baltimore. 

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After a critical bridge collapsed in Baltimore, some social media users claimed Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was pinning the incident on a systemic cause: racism.

"Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is taking zero blame for the accident today that occurred in Baltimore at the Francis Scott Key Bridge," the March 26 X post read. "Instead, he is blaming those that constructed the bridge saying it was designed with racism, just like racist bridges in New York."

The post included a video clip of Buttigieg saying, "If an underpass was constructed such that a bus carrying mostly Black and Puerto Rican kids to a beach, or it would have been, in New York, was designed too low for it to pass by, but that obviously reflects racism that went into those design choices."

(Screenshot from X)

We also saw variations of the claim on TikTok and Instagram.

This is a real quote from Buttigieg, but he didn’t say that March 26 after a container vessel crashed into the Francis Scott Key Bridge and caused the structure’s collapse. He said it during a White House briefing in November 2021.

In remarks hours after the Baltimore bridge’s collapse, Buttigieg did not mention racism.

"This is a unique circumstance. I do not know of a bridge that has been constructed to withstand a direct impact from a vessel of this size," he said. The vessel that struck the bridge was about 984 feet long and weighed 95,000 gross tons. It was moving at about 8 knots or around 9 miles per hour.

Buttigieg deferred to the National Transportation Safety Board’s independent investigation for questions about how the crash happened. We found no reports or statements that show he cited racism as the incident’s cause.

On March 27, at a White House briefing, Buttigieg said, "It’s too early to speculate, of course, what NTSB will find. … What we do know is a bridge like this one, completed in the 1970s, was simply not made to withstand a direct impact on a critical support pier from a vessel that weighs about 200 million pounds, orders of magnitude bigger than cargo ships that were in service in that region at the time that the bridge was first built."

Buttigieg said this collapse was unlike others because of design flaws in the bridge. He said, "What I will note is that some of the other bridge collapses that were of these proportions, notably the Minnesota bridge collapse, happened because of a design flaw and the bridge spontaneously collapsed. This is, of course, not that. This was the result of an impact."

We previously fact-checked Buttigieg on his claim that racism is "physically built into some of our highways," and found it True. Experts on highways and urban history widely agreed with his assertion.

We rate the claim that Buttigieg blamed the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse on racism False.

RELATED: Officials still investigating why cargo ship lost power before Baltimore bridge crash

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Pete Buttigieg didn't blame Baltimore bridge collapse on racism. This clip is from 2021

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