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Rally to oust Paladino from board draws wide support

A rally to call for the ouster of Carl P. Paladino from the Buffalo School Board drew support from a wide variety of community groups, from teachers and parents to labor groups and the local affiliate of Black Lives Matter.

About 300 people gathered for about an hour outside of City Hall to call on State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia to remove Paladino from office because of inflammatory comments he made last week about President Obama and the first lady.

[PHOTO GALLERY: Signs of protest and support at Paladino rally]

"Paladino you can't hide, we can see your racist side," the crowd chanted at one point.

A small group of Paladino supporters also turned out for the rally, at one point getting into a verbal altercation with some of the protesters. There was also a strong police presence than is normally seen at such demonstrations.

The rally was hosted by a coalition of parent and community organizations, many of whom have turned out at past demonstrations against Paladino and were active in this year's school board election. The event also drew strong union representation from the local AFL-CIO, New York State United Teachers and the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

"You meant every damn thing you said," activist Keith Jones said at the rally, referring to Paladino. "Everyone should boycott everything you have a hand in."

The leader of one of the organizations, the Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization, said the group plans to file an official petition with Elia asking her to remove him from office.

And this afternoon, the Buffalo School Board is expected to vote on a resolution giving Paladino 24 hours to resign, or else it will also call on Elia to remove him.

Among those participating in the rally were the Buffalo Parent Teacher Organization, Showing up for Racial Justice, VOICE Buffalo and Buffalo Immigrant and Refugee Leadership Team. They were joined by members of other groups, including the District Parent Coordinating Council and the Buffalo Teachers Federation.

Thousands of people have signed online petitions urging Elia to remove Paladino from office.

Elia has declined to comment, possibly because she may be called on to step in and make a decision.

“We are in the process of reviewing all of our options in this unusual situation and will closely watch the actions taken by the Buffalo Board of Education at tomorrow’s meeting," State Education Department spokesman Emily DeSantis wrote in a statement Wednesday.

Several local and state leaders condemned Paladino's remarks, with some demanding that he resign.

Buffalo School Board President Barbara A. Seals Nevergold condemned Paladino's statements and called a special meeting for Thursday to discuss board member conduct. Even prior to the situation that erupted last week, board members had discussed their options for removing him.

Related: Read the Buffalo School Board resolution for removing Paladino

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