Protesters converged on the Buffalo School Board meeting Wednesday night and brought it to a standstill.
They called for the removal of Board Member Carl P. Paladino and called out board members who offered support to Paladino.
About 75 people participated in the action, which took place as the public comment period ended. That’s when chants began, and lasted for about 15 minutes.
The group was so disruptive that the business meeting was moved from the 13th floor Council Chambers to the Board of Education’s conference room on the eighth floor in City Hall.
"Hey Hey Ho Ho. Paladino’s got to go," one of the chants went.
The protest action clearly caught officials and security off guard. Visibly uncomfortable board members, and the superintendent, started getting up from their seats and walking around.
The more security officers tried to quiet the group and restore order, the louder the group became. At one point, officials and members of the media had to be escorted from the space where the protest was going on.
Protesters converged on Buffalo School board meeting calling for removal of Bd. Member Carl paladino pic.twitter.com/IY5CQEDtxx
— Deidre Williams Boyd (@DeidreWilliamsB) February 16, 2017
The protest centered around comments made in December by Paladino that were published in Artvoice, a local publication.
After Paladino made the comments, the School Board voted 6-2 to call on the state education commissioner to remove Paladino from office.
The resolution approved by the board called on Paladino to resign within 24 hours, which he has said he will not do.
Now, Elia finds herself in the middle of a politically charged situation in which she will have to determine whether Paladino’s comments were so outrageous that they meet the legal standards for removing an elected official.
Meanwhile, the crowd of protesters Wednesday night also directed their focus toward School Board members Patricia Pierce and Larry Quinn. The two board members voted against calling on the Education Commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, to remove Paladino.
Both Pierce and Quinn have publicly condemned Paladino’s remarks but that was not enough for protesters at the meeting.
"Which side are you on, Patti? Which side are you on, Larry," the chants went.
In the midst of the disruption, the board meeting was moved from the Council Chambers to the Board of Education’s conference room, where the meeting continued.
All nine board members were present, and throughout the protest action, Paladino and Quinn did not respond.
Before the meeting was moved, Pierce stood up to address the crowd but was completely drowned out.
Eventually, the protest disbanded and the meeting continued.