FBI raids Grassroots political club on Buffalo's East Side

African-American group backed Mayor, Assemblywoman
Posted at 5:30 PM, Jun 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 23:34:18-04

Three addresses connected to Grassroots, the East Side political organization that helped propel many of Buffalo's top African-American leaders to power, was raided Thursday by the FBI. 

An FBI spokeswoman confirmed that agents were at 339 Genesee St., 1325 Main St. and 64 Meech St. but declined to comment on the nature of any investigation. The raid was first reported by The Buffalo News. 

The Genesee Street address is the headquarters of Grassroots, while the other two addresses are connected to Maurice Garner, one of the group's founders. 

The political organization formed in the 1980s as a community group and became a political alternative to the existing African-American leadership in the city, which was at the time headed by leaders like Assemblyman Arthur O. Eve.

The group has wielded significant clout in city affairs, helping then-State Senator Byron W. Brown become Buffalo's first black mayor and also supporting the political rise of Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.

Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes issued this statement on Thursday:

“While in Albany continuing to pass meaningful policy, news from today’s events were brought to my attention. It is my hope that those involved cooperate fully and it is important to allow due process within the justice system to proceed.”

Statement from Mayor Byron Brown:

"My focus continues to be serving all of the residents of Buffalo, as we continue to move our City forward and make progress. Earlier today, I learned about events that were occurring through news reports. I have no additional information, and I have followed a policy of not commenting on investigations. I refer those questions to the agencies conducting those investigations. My focus on serving our City remains my priority."

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer once told the New York Times that the group was "one of the smartest, savviest political groups in the United States."

No one at the Grassroots headquarters answered a phone call from a reporter Thursday seeking comment. Mayor Brown also has not commented on the raids.