Protesters hold Sheriff Howard accountable for jail deaths

Aug 6, 2019

In the wake of two more deaths in the Erie County Holding Center, dozens of protestors from an array of groups were outside the facility Monday. Connell Burrell's death on Friday was the 26th since Sheriff Tim Howard took office in 2005.


Protesters were outside the Erie County Holding Center on Monday.
Credit Mike Desmond/WBFO

"They can't just sit back and say, oh, it's just another one, another loss, another this and that," said Burrell's sister, Monica Lynch.

"This is a life and I'm tired of them taking it for granted. They look at people and act like everybody that walks into this door turn into animals."

Lynch was with her borther when he died Friday at Buffalo General Hospital.

One of the organizers of the protest was Natasha Soto, director of Black Love Resists in the Rust.

"It's a sign that the Holding Center is a dangerous place and that we need to decriminalize and stop putting people in cages," Soto said.

This crowd of perhaps 60 seemed larger than some past protests. Years of rallies have called for fundamental changes in the Holding Center. Again, they called for removal of Howard. Various speakers called for Erie County Executive Poloncarz and the county Legislature to get rid of him, though they have no legal power to execute that demand.

Lynch says Burrell had well-controlled type one diabetes until something went wrong within hours of his arrival in the Holding Center. Eventually, he was sent to the hospital.

Lynch promises she's not going to let the matter fade.

"Everything that they're doing is going to be accountable for. The guards that saw him, the cameras, everything," Lynch said.

"We're not going from any stone unturned."