JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – Last October, two Halloween parties taking place at the Carroll Rod and Gun Club and Frewsburg American Legion took a turn for the worst when two attendees donned “black face”.
After pictures surfaced of these two individuals dressed in “black face”, community members rallied together to seek justice and feel like now, months after the initial incident, they still are not being heard.
“When I was growing up, I was told that it was ignorance, people are not used to other people and ignorant, they don’t know meaning ignorance is they don’t know. When I hear that my goddaughter who is in school gets called a racial slur on the bus, who does not know in 2023 does not know that that is a racial slur, so we can’t say ignorance anymore,” said Sandra Lewis.
Many members of the community voiced their concerns throughout the duration of the forum.
“We as a community, we’re tired of sitting back waiting for the next issue, we need our elected officials to be more proactive and get out there and get things rolling,” said a community member.
“You’re not saying what you’re going to do, you’re just sitting there and talking along with everybody else, we’re all in agreement. But what do you think? Tom Nelson said what he thinks and everybody else is just being quiet. Just say something,” a community member said.
After the “black face” incident, the Human Rights Commission wrote a letter to 67 government officials, and of the dozens of recipients only four responded.
County Legislator Dave Wilfong explained that the way the letter was addressed may have caused some confusion.
“I did not read through it like I should have, so there was some issues there,” “I’m not saying that’s because of a racist agenda, but you didn’t read through it. You didn’t take the time to read it and understand what was going on so we need to fix that,” an exchange between Wilfong and a community member.
In the end, the officials have come to the agreement that they will try to reach PJ Wendel concerning racism in the county, however faith in the government is seemingly rocky.
“He will take the time to speak with anyone in the community,” “PJ already said for me, as a county executive, I wouldn’t vote for him again, because number one as a citizen, we asked for his presence here and he did not show any interest, he did not respond to our letter, he did not respond to anything,” a community member said.
PJ Wendel was not able to participate in a Zoom meeting this morning, however the County Executive did send WNY News Now a statement saying that he never received any formal invitation to the Tuesday night meeting. And he is open to speak with anyone on this topic.
The next meeting will take place on Friday the 23rd, where the county officials say a resolution will be presented.