BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Buffalo City Court Judge Barbara Johnson-Lee has issued a no appearance warrant for Michael Cremen of Franklinville after he failed to appear for his arraignment for a second time.
Cremen, 47, is facing hate crime charges following an altercation with Black Lives Matter protesters last month on Hertel Avenue in North Buffalo that was caught on camera.
Cremen was originally scheduled to appear last week, but sent an email to the court saying "I will not be compelled by any means to violate my conscience therefore I will not wear a mask or attend a court proceeding." Mask wearing is mandatory in government buildings to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Despite not showing up for his first scheduled arraignment, Judge Johnson-Lee did not issue a warrant last week, saying there was no "relevant credible evidence" for a warrant. At the time, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he disagreed with that decision and called Cremen a risk to public safety.
A judge cannot issue a bench warrant for a defendant until they have been arraigned.
Cremen is charged with menacing, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment. He's accused of brandishing a knife and yelling racial slurs at demonstrators from the Western New York Liberation Collective.