New York lawmaker charged with firing staffers who urged him to declare white supremacy after Buffalo shooting

A New York state lawmaker has been accused of firing three employees after urging him to take a stand against white supremacy following the mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.

Legislative Director Nicole Golias, Director of Community Relations Matthew Dearing and Director of Communications Brendan Keany claimed they were all evicted from the office of Democratic Assembly member Patrick Burke on Tuesday after a heated disagreement over his handling of the May 14 massacre, involving a self-proclaimed white supremacist and racist allegedly murdered 10 black people.

In the hours after the shooting, Mr Burke – who represents Buffalo – tweeted that he was “sick” from the “racially motivated” attack and has vowed to bring forward legislation to stamp out extremism.

However, the three former staffers told News 4 that he originally planned to do more before retiring for fear of his seat.

According to the now-deposed staff, Mr. Burke was planning to deliver a speech on the congressional floor condemning white supremacy and the debunked “great replacement theory” that Defendant Payton Gendron had touted in a disturbing online manifesto.

The lawmakers then reportedly changed their minds suddenly, canning the idea hours later, they claimed.

When the staff then tried to encourage him to raise the issue, they claimed he told them he didn’t want to risk losing his seat by taking a stance on white supremacy.

The trio said they were then fired because of the disagreement.

“The direct quote was, ‘I’m not giving up my seat on this matter,'” Mr Dearing said.

“We stood up for what we believed in and we lost our jobs because of it,” he added.

Ms Golias said she had to speak because it was “deplorable” that a lawmaker so close to the issue “did nothing”.

“It’s just astonishing and unfortunate that someone does nothing, especially not so close to the issue.

“I don’t think we could live with ourselves if we didn’t say that this is what is right, and that this is what we should do.”

the independent has contacted Mr Burke’s office for comment.

Patrick Burke represents Buffalo where the mass shooting took place

(Pat Burke)

The Assembly member denied the version of the events in a statement to News 4, calling the allegations “bizarre” and pointing to his “long history” of speaking out against white supremacy.

“During a discussion with these staffers, I found their accusations bizarre, insulting and totally inappropriate, given my long history of speaking against white supremacy and my actions and statements over the past week,” he said.

He said the three staff members have been fired because he “can no longer trust them”.

“It was clear that they no longer believed in me or the decisions I made,” he said.

“I can’t keep a staff I no longer trust or who no longer trust me and had to make the difficult decision to fire them.”

After last week’s shooting, Mr Burke made several comments condemning the attack

“I am sickened by the news of a racially motivated mass shooting in my city,” he tweeted on the day of the mass shooting.

“If the information is correct, the shooter live-streamed part of the shooting and scrolling down the barrel of the gun was the N-word.

“With heartbreak for the victims, their families and all of Buffalo.”

On Tuesday, sharing an article about the attack, he spoke out against the spread of white supremacy and announced that he would introduce legislation to tackle extremism.

“I stood with my colleagues to condemn the terrorist act in Buffalo,” he tweeted.

“White supremacy and nativism are being deliberately spread across our country. More than thoughts and prayers, we need action. I am introducing legislation to stamp out extremism.”

There are mounting calls from the families of victims of the Buffalo shooting and civil rights activists for officials to take action to fight white supremacy in the wake of the attack.

President Joe Biden visited the site of the massacre on Tuesday, denouncing the “poison” of white supremacy.

“Now is the time for people of all races, of all backgrounds, to speak out as a majority… and reject white supremacy,” he said.

All 10 people killed in Saturday’s mass shooting were black.

The 18-year-old suspect has described himself as a white supremacist and is believed to have handpicked the Buffalo community, a three-hour drive from his home in Conklin to the area, as it is a predominantly black community.

In an online manifesto that appears to have been posted by the gunman, Mr Gendron called himself a racist, white supremacist and anti-Semite and explained how he was inspired by other white supremacist mass shooters to carry out the attack.

He also cited the debunked “great replacement theory” repeatedly promulgated by right-wing personalities such as Fox News’ Tucker Carlson – an extremist conspiracy theory that falsely claims there is a plot to diminish the influence of white people.

Investigators share a moment of silence for victims of the Buffalo supermarket shooting a week after the attack

(Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

After his arrest, he made “disturbing statements” about his motive, making it clear that he was “full of hatred towards the black community” and targeting black people, officials said.

His firearm bore the n-word and the number 14 – a clear reference to a conspiracy theory.

The horror attack took place last Saturday afternoon while innocent residents were shopping at the Tops Friendly Market supermarket.

Mr Gendron, dressed in tactical gear and armed with an assault rifle, first opened fire outside the store before proceeding through the aisles of the supermarket where he shot 13 people, killing 10.

Officials have since said the gunman planned to continue the mass shooting at at least one other location in the community.

There are also questions about how he was able to access a firearm after it was revealed he had previously threatened a mass shooting at his school.

The state is expected to file more charges against Mr Gendron and the US Department of Justice is also investigating the shooting as a hate crime and an act of racially motivated violent extremism and terrorism.

If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison in New York with no chance of parole.

If charged and convicted on federal charges, he could face the death penalty.

He is currently being held on suicide watch and without bail in the custody of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

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