ARRESTED AT COURT FOR APPEARING IN COURT: Former Buffalo police officer turned community activist Cariol Horne was arrested last week at a court appearance stemming from her arrest protesting Mayor Brown’s State of the City address in February. Horne and six other activists were arrested during the protest, which focused on the death of Wardel Davis while was handcuffed an in polic custody. His death was eventually ruled a homicide. Horne was fired in 2008 after intervening when a fellow officer, Gregory Kwiatkowski, placed a handcuffed suspect in a chokehold. Horne’s long campaign to receive her pension—she served for 19 years—have been repeatedly rebuffed. Kwiatkowski, meanwhile, continued his pattern of misdeeds and pled guilty last December to police brutality for firing a confiscated BB gun at a group of teenagers.
Horne posted a video on Facebook recounting her arrest when she was released the following day and has started an online petition asking for New York Courts Officer Paul Doxbeck to be removed. Her petition states the following:
I went to Officer Doxbeck to check in and was shutting my phone down. He said I could not have the phone on in the courtroom, and that I’d have to go in the hall with it. I politely said that I had just shut it off. He asked for my name, which I gave to him. I put my phone in my purse and sat down. He then said that I’d have to go in the hall. I asked why, he said, “because I said so.” I said, “I have a case here.” He said he would let me know when my name was called.
The hall was packed and there were plenty of seats in the courtroom. He then said to leave or be arrested. I asked why I would be arrested. He asked if I was going to leave and I said, “No, I have a court case in here.” He then called for his supervisor who came and immediately told me I had to leave. I explained that I had a court case and I didn’t understand why I had to leave. He said, “because the officer told you to, now leave or be arrested.” I said that makes no sense. He requested me to stand up and put my hands behind my back. He then proceeded to put the cuffs on extra tight and escorted me to lockup. I was then charged with trespassing.
I could have easily left the courtroom, but my ankle was swollen and it was an unreasonable request. I am tired of unreasonable demands given by officers and backed up by supervisors. As a former police officer, I was fired for stopping the choking of a handcuffed suspect by another police officer, but we constantly see officers violating the rights of people with no adverse action taken against them. My question is…why?
Friends of Horne and sympathizers to her cause plan to attend court with her case returns on Wednesday, July 12.
TALE OF TWO FLAGS: For the month of July, American flags on Grant Street are sharing lamppost space with Somalian flags in the heart of Buffalo’s Somalian community on the West Side. The powder blue flags with a centered white star commemorate the country gaining independence from colonial rule in 1960, which is officially celebrated on July 1. There are close ties between the struggling Somali state and the Buffalo area: Somalia’s current president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, studied at the University at Buffalo and worked in the Buffalo office for the state’s Department of Transportation. The five points on the star represent five regions united under one national identity.
Contrast these flags with the solo Confederate flag hanging in front of a home at the intersection of Parker Boulevard and Moore Avenue in Tonawanda, just two blocks north of one of the town’s biggest parks, ironically enough named Lincoln Park.
A funny thing happens to Moore Avenue heading west: It turns into Gettysburg Avenue. Another funny thing happens to Gettysburg Avenue after it crosses Sheridan Drive (named for the Union general, possibly by way of Sheridan Avenue in Chicago): It turns into Vicksburg Avenue. Union forces, backed by President Lincoln, lost nearly 30,000 men between the Battle of Gettysburg and the Siege of Vicksburg to forces bearing that same flag, who fought for the continued ownership of one group of people by another group.
THE AMHERST METHADONE CLINIC: Some of the very worst qualities of Western New York small-time thinking and petty politics are on full display in the battle to establish a drug treatment facility in an underserved area in the midst of a opioid epidemic that on average kills more than one person every day in Erie County.
Catholic Health is trying to expand services, but the landlord of its current facility is refusing to renew their lease at an existing facility on Sheridan Drive. A second site was located a mile away at a Millersport Highway location, but the neighbors vociferously objected, accusing the town and county of not informing them or listening to their concerns.
Then came town supervisor Barry A. Weinstein, who, in attempt to find a compromise and move the proposed clinic to a less accessible site off of a bus line, told the Buffalo News that he’s “never seen anyone in Amherst take a bus” anyway. Some don’t wish to confront the depths of the issue, it seems.
Now a challenger for the supervisor position, Marjory Jaeger, has jumped into the fray. (Weinstein is term-limited out of the race; Jaeger, a Conservative, will run against Williamsville mayor Brian Kulpa, a Democrat.) Jaeger accuses the local Democratic Party of keeping the process a secret. Officials from Erie County Clerk Mark Poloncarz’s office and the town’s Democratic Committee were part of planning meeting for the clinic in April 2016.
Since then, around 550 people have died from opioid overdoses.
SPEAKING OF BUSES IN AMHERST: Last week, when we pointed out the opportunity available to the NFTA to market their transportation network and compete with ride-sharing services, we should have added the caveat that the NFTA’s network is strong and efficient, until you cross the city line.
A necessary study produced by the Partnership for Public Good lays bare that the NFTA’s network is badly outdated and hasn’t kept up with what the report calls the region’s “sprawl without growth.” In the last 50 years, the area’s population has stayed relatively flat, but radiated from a dense urban core into the surrounding wetlands and farmlands, creating rings of suburbs. Four of the area’s five employment centers are located beyond the convenience of NFTA’s reach. (You might be able to get to work on public transport, but it might take you 90 minutes.) More troubling is the racial breakdown of the data. The average black worker who rides the bus spends 59 more hours per year in transit than the average white worker who rides the bus, according to the study.
The report concludes that improving public transit is an imperative for promoting economic development, reducing racial disparities, fighting poverty, and decreasing air pollution. That the NFTA is routinely shortchanged by the state’s funding formula has long been the focus of advocates like Assemblyman Sean Ryan, but the PPG report calls on the county to devote a greater percentage of its tax formulas to public transportation “with a particular focus on connecting communities of color” to those regional employment centers.” The report also recommended that drivers and other staff be paid more. The starting wage for drivers is currently $12.95 per hour.