Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard held a fundraiser Tuesday at the Deep South Taco restaurant in downtown Buffalo. Dozens of chanting protestors flanked the entrance as ticket buyers arrived.
"No hate. No fear. Get that racist out of here."
"Hey, hey, ho, ho. Sheriff Howard's got to go."
"(Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like."
The protestors chanted an array of attacks on the incumbent, as they pushed back for about 90 minutes against his run for another term. Their antipathy to the law enforcement boss was very clear in their chants and in the posters they carried.
"We're here because Sheriff Howard is having a fundraiser at Deep South Taco and there is two elements here that we are protesting," said Josie Diebold, spokesperson for the protestors. "It's being touted as being sponsored by organized labor and, yet, we know that Sheriff Howard has repeatedly blamed his frontline workers when there have been systematic failures in his jails."
Supporters sometimes made comments from the roof deck of the restaurant, including shouting down what the legal rules were if the protestors ever stopped moving, watched by Buffalo Police officers and supervisors.
"We find it absurd and hypocritical that he's having a fundraiser in a Mexican restaurant just two weeks after he directed his deputies to continue inquiring about people's immigration status during routine stops," said Diebold. "We know that leads to unsafe communities, that target communities of color, lead to racial profiling and also deter people from seeking out police."
Some signs claimed deaths in the Erie County Holding Center and jails totaled 24 people. No attendees of the event were willing to talk about the protestors or the signs they carried.