The Cattaraugus County man facing a hate crime charge following a confrontation with Black Lives Matter demonstrators on Hertel Avenue over the summer did not show up for his scheduled court appearance Wednesday morning, and City Court Judge Barbara Johnson-Lee issued a warrant for his arrest.
Michael Cremen’s first scheduled court appearance came last week, but he never showed up then, either. Instead, he sent an email to the court two days earlier saying he would not attend any proceeding in which anyone is required to wear a face mask.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, face masks are required inside city court.
Johnson-Lee granted prosecutors' request to issue the "non-appearance" warrant, something she declined to do both on Thursday and Friday.
In his email to the court, Cremen also issued a warning that led Erie County District Attorney John Flynn to conclude Cremen may pose a danger to the public and to any law enforcement officer who may try to arrest him if an arrest warrant was issued.
"I’m concerned for public safety," Flynn said last week. "I’m concerned for any law enforcement officer that does go to his house."
Cremen, 47, of Franklinville, faces a felony hate crime charge for menacing, as well as charges of weapons possession and harassment.
Buffalo police issued Cremen an appearance ticket on Aug. 31, three days after the Aug. 28 incident, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. Video that captured much of the incident was widely circulated on social media. It showed two white men standing in the middle of Hertel as marchers approached.
The video shows Cremen repeatedly yelling a racial slur, along with profanity. He’s also seen holding a knife.
As the courtroom opened to the public on Wednesday morning, a court officer told a Buffalo News reporter, a WKBW-TV reporter and the public information officer from the District Attorney's Office they had to leave the courtroom where Cremen was scheduled to appear. The officer said it was the judge's order that no one be permitted inside the courtroom due to Covid-19 restrictions, even though other court proceedings were scheduled. The courtroom was opened just prior to Cremen's case being called.
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