Pridgen sets off fireworks over police handling his July 4th visitors


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – As thousands of cheering spectators enjoyed Buffalo’s Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Canalside, Common Council President Darius Pridgen was ripping Buffalo police on Facebook for turning guests away from his waterfront gathering.

Pridgen was hosting an Independence Day party at his waterfront condominium, and was alerted that police were turning away many of his guests, so the city lawmaker recorded about a 7 minute video clip on Facebook, out of frustration with police.

“Because I have already heard that a police officer said that I came down there screaming. I want to agree with them. I did.”

Police set up a checkpoint here at the entrance to Erie Street which is the only access to several condominium complexes along the waterfront, including Harbour Pointe, where Pridgen lives

The council president said he went to the checkpoint and watched certain people getting rejected, while others were let through, suggesting race was a factor without actually calling it racial profiling.

“I came down there screaming because, why the people who come to see me, or who look like me, why can’t they turn down the street? But everybody else did.”

Pridgen talked with Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda, Wednesday morning, and Derenda is now calling for an internal affairs investigation, according Buffalo police spokesman, Lt. Jeff Rinaldo.

“In the Buffalo Police Department we expect everybody to be treated equally, and when accusations arise that that has not occurred, the Commissioner is quick to open up an investigation and we look at it.”

Later on Wednesday, Pridgen recorded a second clip on Facebook to clarify the first, denying he was being critical of police, “This is not a ‘Police-versus-Darius’ issue because I am going to say again, you need great policing in order to keep order and crime down, but keep order in a city.”

He went on to give a thumbs up and say, “pro police–pro good police officers.”

Pridgen later issued an apology to his family, and people who witnessed his “dust up” with police. The city leader insists the issue is accessibility for all residents to one of Buffalo’s greatest assets, the Buffalo Waterfront.

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