“It will be a cold day in hell before we defund the police. It will be a cold day in hell before we turn our backs on our police. It will be a cold day in hell before we give up our 2nd Amendment rights,” announced Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw at an ‘Open Up Buffalo’ rally in Niagara Square on Saturday. These events often act as a backdrop to express a myriad of pressing concerns from those attending.
The Erie County employee recently structured business fines for COVID-19 violations, giving up to a century for full payment on the highest fine of $15,000. He has been an outspoken ally of reopen protestors in Erie County. Mychajiliw urged local business owners, “Don’t ever back down from a fight,” adding, “This is about the country that my family escaped.”
Mychajliw is the son of Polish and Ukrainian immigrants, the youngest of seven children, who grew up in blue-collar beginnings near the corner of William and Fillmore on the East Side of Buffalo.
Addressing both reopen protestors, and attending counter-protestors, Mychajliw said, “I will still fight for them to protest in the greatest country in the world. It’s their right, and it’s our right as well. I will defend their right to protest in the same way we make our voices heard today.”
Tensions between reopen protestors and counter-protestors did escalate earlier in the day. Upon Mychajliw’s arrival at Niagara Square, the two sides clashed after counter-protestors encountered the Erie County Comptroller.
Duane Whitmer, former Libertarian candidate for Governor, was at the event. He described the scene, stating, “When it was all said and done, the police removed helmets, knives, a taser or cattle prod, smoke grenade canisters, and pepper spray. None of this came from the Open Up Buffalo protestors.”