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Person hurt at dueling protests in Buffalo's Niagara Square

Posted at 5:11 PM, Dec 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-19 17:23:41-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo police say one person is hurt following an interaction between two groups of protesters in the city's Niagara Square, Saturday afternoon.

One group of people not wearing masks and protesting the state's COVID-19 restrictions, and a group of counter protesters who were wearing masks.

Protesters became confrontational when Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw arrived at Niagara Square.

According to a Buffalo police spokesperson, a small skirmish broke out and one person had minor injuries.

Police say there are no other reports of injuries or other incidents.

Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw released the following statement.

–About five seconds after arriving at a peaceful rally at Niagara Square and getting out of my
car, a counter-protestor, clad in black, fully disguised, wearing some sort of concealed black motorcycle
helmet, got in my face, and physically accosted me. He made physical contact and approached me in a
threatening manner. I did not remove my firearm from my holster. As a responsible owner and carrier
of a firearm, I felt threatened but not to the point where I felt the need to remove my firearm from its
holster. Responsible concealed carry permit holders have the privilege of having a firearm on our
person without the need to ever use it to defend ourselves or our family. I hope and pray I never, ever
have to use my firearm to do so. Other than coming home and quickly showering to get pepper spray off
myself and clothing, everything is fine.
Thankfully, members of the NY Watchmen and other members of our peaceful, patriotic rally to open
the economy were there. I am grateful for their protection. Shortly after Buffalo Police arrived. I
cannot thank the brave men and women of the Buffalo Police Department for protecting us and keeping
the peace. Many thanks to the NY Watchmen and the Buffalo Police Department.
I stepped back from the ensuing physical confrontation, of which protestors sprayed pepper spray and
threw cannisters of tear gas. I was told one of them showed a large knife. A friend of mine told this
person they too were prepared to defend themselves with their legally obtained and concealed firearm.
I am thankful for the opportunity to speak at our peaceful rally. I even said I would strongly defend the
right of protestors to be there and make their voices heard. Being a former journalist and staunch
supporter of the First Amendment, I will always fight for the First Amendment rights of counter
protestors, even when their opinions differ from mine.
What I cannot tolerate are protestors trying to pick a fight. Trust me, I know. To my knowledge, folks
there to support America and our freedoms at the rally were not carrying pepper spray and knives.
Issues did not begin, and police were not called until a counter protestor got in my face.
Many thanks again to the Buffalo Police Department for protecting our rally and for protecting counterprotestors. Good people can disagree without being disagreeable. I will never back down from
supporting businesses getting crippled by over-reaching COVID-19 restrictions. Ever.