Buffalo, NY - The chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party has demanded Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard's resignation after he attended and spoke at a conservative rally on Saturday. Some white supremacists and are reported to have shown up to the public event.
According to WIBV, Sheriff Howard helped lead a "Spirit of America" rally at Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo. And on Sunday, April 2, Erie County Democratic Party chairman Jeremy Zellner called for his resignation.
During his speech, Sheriff Howard said, “Just being in America does not make you an American, nor does being born in America make you an American." He also talked about what it means to be a patriot and the importance of fair immigration laws.
Dozens of people attended the rally. Some reported seeing racist flyers being passed around as well as white supremacists holding confederate flags and spewing hate speech.
Zellner said that he wants an ethics investigation opened about whether it was acceptable for Sheriff Howard to attend the rally in his uniform. He said that the Sheriff should also have denounced the rally. He said “To have the top law enforcement official in Erie County at this event, seeing these flags, seeing these hate speech signs, seeing people pass out this kind of literature, is appalling."
The Tea New York spokesman said that he knew nothing about white supremacists being there, and if pointed out, they wouldn't be there again. Pictures of one known white supremacist at the rally were passed around. He was not carrying any flags or anything conspicuously marking him as a white supremacist.
In response, in a written statement, Sheriff Howard said:
“I agreed to speak at the Spirit of America rally to share my admiration and support for the United States Constitution and to raise the awareness of the broken immigration process that our leaders have failed to address over the past several years.
I understand that some members of the crowd at this public event displayed a confederate flag and I know that members of the Black Lives Matter organization were there as well. But how can I denounce any group’s ability exercise their 1st Amendment right when I spoke at length about honoring our great society and our Constitution.
But I do not support any group that uses violent and discriminatory rhetoric, but how can I limit their God given rights to public assembly and free expression.
What is concerning to me is the democratic chairman, with his ultra-left views, is calling on me to pick and choose which group is protected by the first amendment and which one should be stripped of that right. I don’t support a white supremacist’s view of discrimination and bigotry as I don’t support Black Lives Matter’s hate and call for killing law enforcement personnel.
I stand by my speech which represents my love of the US constitution and calls for our immigration system to be fixed and nothing else.”
It should be noted that this is an election year, and Sheriff Howard is up for re-election. It should also be noted that Sheriff Howard is the Republican candidate. The Democratic candidate, although not officially named yet, is believed to be veteran FBI agent Bernie Tolbert. In a statement, he agreed with Zellner.
I think Zellner and whoever else has an issue with Sheriff Howard being at this rally should be honest about the real issue: Sheriff Howard is a Republican.
There was more discussion about white supremacists being there than Black Lives Matter protesters. Both are equally reprehensible. Sheriff Howard said it well in his statement, that he doesn't support white supremacist views or Black Lives Matter's hate and call for killing law enforcement personnel.
I support Sheriff Howard. Do you agree? We'd like to hear from you. Please let us know in the comments.