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City Hallways (Oct. 13) South Buffalo's Scanlon speaks out against racism

This time, Scanlon says, he's speaking out

Councilman Chris Scanlon spoke up a few days ago in a way he didn't a year ago, but wishes he had.

South District Councilman Chris Scanlon

South District Councilman Chris Scanlon

The South District councilman says he was watching CNN a few weeks ago, hearing the hatred and divisiveness of the presidential race, and seeing reports of African-Americans being shot by police, leading to protests around the country.  As he watched TV,  Scanlon said, he felt disappointed in himself.


Council President Darius Pridgen

It was over a year ago - July 2015 - when then-Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority commissioner Joe Mascia’s racist rant against Council President Darius Pridgen and other African-American leaders was made public. Scanlon didn't speak out at the time. It didn't even occur to him at the time to say anything, Scanlon recalled. That's why, he said, he felt disappointed in himself.

So Scanlon texted Pridgen the night he was watching CNN  -  a year after Mascia's comments were made public - apologizing for not speaking out when the Council president was subjected to Mascia's racist comments. Scanlon also promised he won't be silent in the face of of racism in the future.

Last week, Scanlon said, he came across a letter  on Social Media addressed to another of his colleagues, Masten Councilman Ulysees Wingo, who has been protesting  police shootings nationally of African-Americans by refusing to salute the American flag, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, during recent Council meetings.

The letter, Scanlon said, was appalling,  using racial epithets (the n-word) and showing disdain toward the African-American community. Scanlon spoke out about the letter during a Council committee meeting earlier this week, also attended by both Wingo and Pridgen.


Masten Councilman Ulysees Wingo

"I do not agree with Councilmember Wingo's choice of using the pledge as a time to protest injustices that are taking place in this country. I stand by that. He and I don't have to agree on that," Scanlon said. "But what we do agree on are that there are injustices taking place, that racism does takes place.  For anyone to argue otherwise is either ignorant or blind."

The person who wrote the letter, who did not sign their name, Scanlon said, "is a coward to say the least."
"The letter is despicable and the language and hate have no place in our community," he said.

Scanlon ended by saying: "To the person who penned the letter to Councilmember Wingo, I would say: 'Grow Up. Leave the hate behind and join the rest of us in the 21st century.'
"One last thing, that we all learned when we were probably about 6-years-old," Scanlon added: "You are no better than another person because of the color of our skin. And if you think you are, in my opinion, you are the lesser of the two people."

Today's Calendar items
Preservation Board meets this afternoon, as does the Common Council Education committee.

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