WNY businesses react to civil unrest recently displayed in North Buffalo


NORTH BUFFALO N.Y. (WIVB) – North Buffalo continues to be a focal point after recent clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and bystanders on Hertel Avenue.

At the center of the attention is the bar MT Pockets. A bar patron allegedly waved a knife and yelled racial slurs at protesters last Friday.

“It’s definitely a little bit crazy and there’s a lot going on,” said Phil Machemer, who owns Revolver Records on Hertel Ave.

He said because he owns a shop on Elmwood, seeing a protest or rally isn’t anything new since protests are held in the Elmwood village often. He does say that people acting inappropriately a few blocks from his business on Hertel Ave. was unexpected.

“It’s surprising to see people in my neighborhood react to protests about human rights in the way these people are reacting,” he said.

The owner of MT Pockets did release a statement to say they “do not condone racism or violence in their establishment.

The Hertel Business Association also released a statement saying in part that “…it is unacceptable that people are engaging in any physical assaults or verbal abuse when peaceful protest is taking place on our neighborhood streets. The behavior of a few loud and disrespectful voices is not a reflection of our diverse community and will not be tolerated. There is simply no place for that on Hertel Avenue or anywhere in our beloved City of Buffalo.”

Civil rights activist Johanna Dominguez owns a plant shop over in the Elmwood Village and says the behavior displayed on Hertel Avenue goes against the city’s values.

“That’s not what Buffalo is about, and Buffalo is the city of good neighbors,” she said. “It’s about being a welcoming city [and] a sanctuary city. So as a business owner I just find it unfortunate that that had to happen.”

MT Pockets is temporarily closed while police investigate how the business appeared to not follow state guidelines by requiring patrons to wear a mask or limit its capacity.

Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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