Police officers from across the City of Buffalo have been calling for Mayor Byron Brown‘s resignation in a sweeping change of attitude toward the Mayor in the law enforcement community, following his mishandling of protests in the aftermath of George Floyd‘s killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officer David Chauvin nearly two weeks ago.
On Thursday, riot response officers were caught on videotape shoving longtime activist Martin Gugino, 75, to the ground after being given orders to clear Niagara Square upon the Mayor’s 8pm curfew taking effect. After that video footage went viral nationwide on Thursday evening and into the day on Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo joined Mayor Brown in calling for the immediate suspension of the officers without pay — and demanded that District Attorney John Flynn quickly arrest and charge the officers.
On Friday, 57 members of Buffalo’s specialized riot response unit resigned that role in protest of Mayor Brown’s termination of the two police officers — effectively refusing to show up for work assignments to protect government buildings from possible rioters on Friday evening.
Following the officers’ mass resignation, Brown reversed course — by Saturday morning calling the protester an ‘agitator’, claiming Gugino had been riling protesters and insisting that he will not terminate the officers involved. The reversal of rhetorical course from the Mayor has infuriated local activists and political observers from across the nation who watched the video footage with disgust.
This morning Flynn is defending his exceptionally quick charging of the officers, insisting that he’s “not picking sides”, which some are interpreting as a political swipe at Buffalo’s first African American Mayor.
Meanwhile, protesters have renewed longstanding calls on Brown to resign his office for failing to address stark racial inequities in the City, which have only grown worse in recent decades and under Brown’s tenure in office. Many of the City’s most prominent Black activists have resented Brown’s tenure in office, claiming that City spending and policy still hasn’t advantaged the East Side of Buffalo or African Americans who have grown up here.
In his most recent reelection, Brown was lambasted by former County Legislator Betty Jean Grant for his hiring of former Police Commissioner Daniel Derrenda, who often refused to wear his uniform to work and was widely seen as an incompetent political appointee.