Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said today he is filing a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission over a threat made Tuesday by a caller to a WBEN-AM talk show.
The caller, who identified himself as David from Lockport, made the threat in response to an announcement by Poloncarz Tuesday that Erie County welcomes refugees. The announcement was made in response to an executive order by President Trump that would bar refugees from resettling in a state or locally without written consent from the governor and a local official.
Mayor Byron Brown also gave formal consent last week. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has indicated consent, though the executive order itself faces other legal challenges.
David in Lockport warned Poloncarz “if one of your illegals you bring here to ruin our country either hurts me or mine, I’m going to come after you and yours. And you can take that to the bank, you moron.”
Host Joe Beamer, who often substitutes for Sandy Beach now that Beach works four days a week, didn’t respond after the threat was made. He also didn’t explain to David that refugees are not undocumented immigrants and have to pass a rigorous test to gain entry into the country.
The caller’s threat received widespread condemnation on social media.
In response, Poloncarz issued a statement Wednesday morning.
“I am disappointed such a threat was made against me and my family members and that the radio station did nothing to stop it and didn’t address what the phone caller said immediately after it aired. While people have the right to disagree with policy positions and specific decisions made by their public officials, in our democracy threats made against anyone are unacceptable, including what was stated Tuesday on WBEN. We will be passing along information regarding this public threat to the appropriate law enforcement agencies to ensure no harm is caused to anyone, as well as filing a formal complaint with the Federal Communications Commission regarding the use of the public airwaves to make such threat and the failure of WBEN to appropriately respond.”
WBEN representatives didn’t immediately respond to emails asking for comment. Most of the responses regarding station issues now come from Entercom’s corporate headquarters, which can cause a delay of a day or two.
According to a station source, WBEN screens its calls and has a delay that can be pressed by the host or the show’s producer.