“Believe it or not, Mayor Brown is African-American. He should be insulted by this too,” community organizer Lorna Hill told Time Warner Cable’s Ryan Whalen at a demonstration protesting school board member Carl Paladino outside of Buffalo City Hall yesterday.
Brown did not attend and dismissed the demonstration as a sideshow. “I have provided leadership. I’m going to focus on my job as mayor and moving this city forward. I’m not going to get caught up in that sideshow,” he said.
The rally was called by 100 Black Women, People United for Sustainable Housing, Open Buffalo, We Are Women Warriors and a slew of other organizations — and Brown’s dismissive attitude towards their concerns has political operatives buzzing. They say that Brown’s behavior indicates that he is more concerned about appealing to white voters in an election year, than articulating the concerns of the African American community.
“According to Mayor Brown, we participated in a ‘Sideshow’ today. I believe that anytime we stand up for children and stand up against racism and bigotry, we are the true leaders of this community,” County Legislator Betty Jean Grant retorted on Facebook. “People of all colors, races and ethnic groups spent more than an hour in the rain Tuesday in front of City Hall, protesting the hateful and vile words issued against the sitting president of the United States and is wife. If that is a sideshow, I will say like Hillary Clinton said, deal me in!”
The school board resolution to remove Paladino from the Board of Education has been sent to the state education commissioner Mary Ellen Ellia. Grant worries that the resolution is not a ‘slam dunk.’ To reinforce the impact of the resolution and to show solidarity with the board’s call on Paladino to either resign or be removed, another rally has been scheduled for tomorrow in South Buffalo — organized by Austin Harig, the 18 year old candidate for school board who nearly ousted Paladino last year.
“Ms. Elia must know that we are very offended and our school children have been harmed by the hateful, disrespectful and racist comments,” Grant writes on social media.
Other activists sympathize for the Mayor’s predicament.
“I suggest yall leave the mayor alone, because the larger story here is who took the money that currently has hundreds of thousands of dollars still in their campaign fund/war chest,” says Katrinna Martin-Bordeaux, in defense of Brown.
“To remotely suggest that college educated individuals did not realize that Carl is a racist, then to actually follow it up and say it was the Asian comment that made you say you wouldn’t take anymore money is racist in itself,” she argues.
“So he refused to take the money after the Asian racist statement, but not the racist emails he sent about black people and the president and first lady, or his comments about locking up black kids in prison camps to teach us hygiene, or his racist comments about Dr. Pamela Brown and the other board members,” she explains.
Many activists have been calling on County Executive Mark Poloncarz, the region’s largest recipient of Paladino campaign contributions, to return more than $40,000 that he has taken from the developer. Poloncarz has said that he no longer accepts contributions from Paladino, but has not returned any of the money that he has already received.
“What makes a college educated white male overlook all of the other racist rhetoric expressed by Carl, while accepting his money for years to then coming to the realization that he shouldn’t take the money, but only after the Asian people were disrespected,” Martin-Bordeaux asks. “But I am his largest minority constituency.”
“To say the money has already been spent is a convenient excuse to keep it. Furthermore what about the 10-15k in the Democratic housekeeping account that Carl donated to Democratic headquarters for decades,” she adds. “Giving the money back is the right thing to do.”
Zellner does not intend to return Paladino’s contributions to Democrat headquarters.