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Buffalo man convicted of breaking into woman’s home, assault

BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Buffalo man has been convicted of breaking into a woman’s home to assault her and her child, prosecutors said.

A jury found 42-year-old Netza Medina guilty Wednesday of one count of first-degree burglary, one count of aggravated criminal contempt and one count of child endangerment after a five-day trial and two hours of deliberating.

The Erie County Prosecutor’s Office said just after midnight Dec. 29, 2020, Medina went to the woman’s home in Buffalo, knowingly violating a no-contact order of protection. The woman called 911 while Medina entered the home, breaking two windows and kicking in a door.

Once inside, prosecutors said he pushed the woman to the floor and choked her. A child at the home grabbed a knife to try to intervene, and Medina hit the child in the face with his elbow. Medina then held the knife to the child as the woman attempted to pull him off the child.

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Prosecutors said Medina continued to push the woman into the kitchen, holding the knife to her neck and then punching and kicking her.

Police and a friend of the woman arrived, and Medina was taken into custody.

The woman had injuries to her mouth, nose and eyes; the child was treated for a broken jay and stab wound to his hand.

As a second felony offender, Medina faces up to 25 years in prison when he is sentenced on July 6. He is still being held without bail.

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Buffalo man sentenced for shooting that paralyzed 42-year-old

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Buffalo man found guilty of assault and gun charges after a shooting that paralyzed a man will spend over three decades behind bars.

Demetrius D. Williams was sentenced Thursday in Erie County court to a total of 35 years in prison and then 5 years of post-release supervision.

Last month, a jury found the 39-year-old guilty of one county of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Williams was acquitted of an attempted murder charge.

Williams received the maximum sentence of 25 years for the assault charge and 10 years for the gun charge; the sentences will run back-to-back.

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Prosecutors said Williams intentionally shot a 42-year-old man with an illegal firearm on Marigold Avenue near Central Park Avenue in Buffalo.

The victim was taken to Erie County Medical Center, where doctors discovered his spinal cord was severed, and he was paralyzed from a gunshot wound to the base of his skull. The 42-year-old continues to receive care from a long-term assisted living facility.

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Erie County man charged, accused of attacking man with broken beer bottle

ERIE COUNTY, N.Y. (WIVB) — A Springville man was charged this week, accused of assaulting another man with a broken beer bottle that left the victim seriously injured.

Erie County prosecutors have charged 33-year-old Roberto Perez-Ramos with one count of first-degree assault and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

Prosecutors said on Friday, May 13, just after 8 p.m., Erie County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a residential complex on S. Cascade Drive in Springville.

When deputies arrived, they found a man outside the complex with severe cuts and stab wounds. First-responders took the man to a local hospital before he was transported by hospital to another Erie County hospital. He was treated for injuries to his face, ear and chest and then released.

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Perez-Ramos is accused of assaulting the man with a broken glass bottle, prosecutors said. Officials recovered a broken beer bottle from the scene.

Perez-Ramos is set to appear in court again on Friday, May 20. His bail has been set at $5,000 cash or a $50,000 bond/partially secured bond.

If he’s convicted, Perez-Ramos could be sentenced up to 25 years in prison.

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Expanding Resources for Minority-Owned Businesses

By Ted Janicki, President, Bank of America, Buffalo

At Bank of America, fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce is core to who we are as a company and how we drive responsible growth in the markets we serve. Implementing these values begins at the very top at Bank of America – CEO Brian Moynihan chairs our Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, which plays an important role in setting company-wide goals and executing the strategies needed to achieve them. These goals are reflected throughout our employee networks, local partnerships, and our commitment to advancing racial equality and economic opportunity.

Last year, Bank of America released two Black Business Owner Reports to examine business trends, the impact of the pandemic, and the everyday challenges of small business ownership through an equity lens. The summer report found that 93% of Black small business owners intended to obtain some type of funding for their business in the upcoming year – most of the business owners surveyed also expected their businesses and the economy to rebound. The majority of respondents (56%) in the February report also noted that challenges accessing capital limited their business’ growth. These results are profoundly troubling and underscore the urgency to improve Black entrepreneurs’ access to crucial resources and capital.

As we celebrate Small Business Month and Buffalo’s entrepreneurs during May, it is imperative to recognize that access to capital is critical – especially for minority-owned companies, which were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Bank of America directly engages with minority-owned businesses to ensure they have access to the tools and resources needed to secure funding, including EforAll Buffalo. Our network of community development financial institutions including Pathstone Enterprise Center, also works to expand access to capital for business owners who have historically been denied or faced barriers when applying for financial assistance. Here in Buffalo, we also work with the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to create opportunities for small business owners through the newly launched Minority-Owned Business Initiative, which created an underwriting fund to sponsor new BNP memberships.

Our internal goals, research, and local partners are examples of how Bank of America is working towards advancing racial equality and economic opportunity in Buffalo. By understanding our communities and local business owners, we can better invest in the guiding principles of diversity and inclusion to make Western New York a better place for all.

 

About Bank of America: 

Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services.

About the Author: 

Ted Janicki is the Buffalo market president and Upstate New York/Western Massachusetts small business banking market executive for Bank of America. 

As market president, Ted is responsible for connecting the banking and investment resources offered through Bank of America’s eight lines of business to companies, families and individuals across Erie and Niagara counties. He also leads the effort to deploy Bank of America’s resources to address social concerns, strengthen economic opportunity, and build strong communities, as well as supporting the health, safety and engagement of local teammates.

 

Disclaimer: The above commentary entails the views of the author and not necessarily the views of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

The post Expanding Resources for Minority-Owned Businesses appeared first on Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

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City collecting personal care items for Jefferson Avenue neighbors

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The city is holding a personal care items drive Thursday and Friday to collect items for the Jefferson Avenue neighbors.

Food donations have been pouring in since Saturday, but Mayor Byron Brown said the community told him they also need personal care items.

They’re collecting items like toilet paper, paper towels, diapers, toothpaste, soaps, wipes, garbage bags, and feminine products.

“A lot of food is coming in, a lot of things, a lot of activities to serve people out in the community to distribute food out in the community and from all that distribution what we were hearing from residents out in the community was that they needed personal care items,” Mayor Brown said.

Wegmans donated a truck full of these items Thursday.

“Making sure we had diapers, that was one of those things they were hoping to get, so just listening to the neighbors just to hear what do they need right now and doing our best to provide that,” said Wegmans spokesperson Michele Mehaffy.

There will be bins at City Hall and the drive runs through Friday.

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.

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City leaders to provide update on Buffalo mass shooting investigation

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — We’ll be receiving an update on the investigation into the Tops mass shooting that killed 10 people and injured three others at 3 p.m.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia and others are scheduled to speak. Once it begins, you can watch the conference in the video player above and on WIVB.

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‘This is my city, too’: Pegulas, Roger Goodell, Jim Kelly visit Buffalo mass shooting site

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Bills and Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula visited the Buffalo supermarket mass shooting memorial Thursday, one day after Josh Allen and Bills players served food at the scene.

The Pegulas were joined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a Jamestown, N.Y. native, as well as Bills legends Jim Kelly, Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas.

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Longtime Sabres broadcaster Rick Jeanneret and former player Pat Kaleta, an Angola, N.Y. native, were also spotted.

On Wednesday, the Bills Foundation announced a $200,000 donation to support local response efforts, along with a matching $200,000 donation from the NFL Foundation.

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This is a developing story, check back for more info.

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Lucille Ball Comedy Festival returns for 2022

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — The National Comedy Center is ready to start laughing again in front of a live crowd.

It announced that the 2022 Lucille Ball Comedy Festival will happen in August, after being canceled the past two years due to COVID-19.

Margaret Cho, Jeff Foxworthy, David Spade, Rob Schneider, and Kevin Nealon all plan to headline this year’s festival that features more than 50 live events.

A Stand-Up Comedy Showcase has also been added to the lineup to celebrate the 30th year for the live event.

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“We all need laughter after these past two years, so we’re pleased that the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival is back and features some of comedy’s greatest talent: Margaret Cho, Jeff Foxworthy, Legends of SNL David Spade, Kevin Nealon and Rob Schneider, along with the best rising voices from comedy nationwide. The talent descending on Jamestown that week is remarkable,” Journey Gunderson, National Comedy Center executive director, said.

Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown hosts the event as a tribute to her life and love of laughter.

The events are scheduled from August 3-7, 2022.

National Comedy Center members get the first chance at tickets through an exclusive presale starting Wednesday, June 1 at 12 p.m. Tickets for the general public will be available Monday, June 6, at 12 p.m.

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Jamestown man killed in crash involving farm tractor

HANOVER, N.Y. — A man is dead after a crash involving a pickup and a tractor.

The Chautauqua County Sheriff’s Office said 76-year-old Samuel E. Restivo of Jamestown died from the serious injuries he suffered in a crash May 15.

Investigators said Restivo was driving a farm tractor on the shoulder of Alleghany Road in Hanover. They said 75-year-old Arthur R. Zynda of South Dayton didn’t see the tractor and rear-ended it.

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The impact caused Restivo to be thrown from the tractor. He later died at a hospital from his injuries.

Deputies ticketed Zynda for unsafe passing.

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Sullivan: Buffalo’s poet laureate strives to inspire a grieving city

Jillian Hanesworth has heard the question more than once since the horrific events of last Saturday. She is, after all, her city’s first poet laureate. It’s her stated mission to “inspire Buffalo in verse,” to lift her voice.

“A lot of people have been contacting me,” Hanesworth said Tuesday at the Open Buffalo office on Jefferson Avenue. “They ask, ‘Are you going to write about this? When are we going to hear about this?’

“I’m like, ‘You’ve just got to give me some time to sit on it and process it.'”

Three days after 10 of her Black neighbors were shot to death by an 18-year-old white supremacist at the Tops Market down the street, the horror was too fresh, the pain too immediate and profound, for Hanesworth to be moved to create.

She’s seldom at a loss for words. Jillian has read her poetry hundreds of times in public settings over the years. Later that evening, she was scheduled to recite from her poems during a memorial vigil at the corner of Jefferson and Riley, across from the shuttered Tops where those innocent lives were taken.

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But shortly after word of the murders hit on Saturday afternoon, it was right there in her tweets. There were no words to describe the sadness and shock.

The Tops Market is right down Jefferson from Open Buffalo, a non-profit that promotes racial justice and equity in the city. Hanesworth, 29, a long-time community advocate, is the director of leadership.

Out the second-floor window facing down Jefferson, you could see the market in the distance. There was yellow tape sealing off the road and the adjacent plaza. Jefferson was closed at both ends over a six-block stretch, anticipating President Biden’s visit later in the morning.

Hanesworth met with News 4 at the Open Buffalo office on Jefferson Avenue. “We have been stuck in this state of survival,” she said. “We don’t exist to survive. We can demand more. We are owed more.”

Hanesworth shopped at the Tops almost every day. She ate lunch there. She knew everyone who was killed that day, at least casually. She was close with Aaron Salter — “Salt” — the retired Buffalo cop who worked security in the market and was killed trying to stop the shooter. One of the older women who died used to babysit Jillian’s mother.

“So, there’s degrees of separation with just about everyone, though I don’t know everyone personally,” she said. “We’re family, and we survive over here together.”

The tight-knit East Side family is hurting, mourning the deaths of 10 loved ones and neighbors. Like any Black resident, Hanesworth has been dealing with feelings of grief and anger. She’s been very busy, too, suddenly popular with outside media. An hour before sitting down with WIVB, she was a national radio guest on NPR.

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“It’s been hitting me in waves,” she said. “One minute, I’ll be perfectly fine. The next minute, I will just be hysterical. Luckily, we’re going to have counselors here at Open Buffalo to talk to all the staff, because we are so close to the situation. This is our community. This community is like my baby.”

She has been jotting down her thoughts, fragments of the poem inside her. Hanesworth is a political person, an activist who wore out a bunch of sneakers marching for racial justice after the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020.

Racial justice inspired her to write her first poem when she was just 10 years old. It was called “I Too Have A Dream,” inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech. The poem was about a child growing up in a segregated world. Soon, she was being asked to read it in public. Yes, even at 10, people clamored to hear her.

After graduating from Fredonia State in 2014, Hanesworth wrote a poem after learning that Darren Wilson, the policeman who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., would not be charged with a crime.

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That poem was entitled “I Wish That Little Black Boy Did Something,” a cry out against police violence against young Black males. That launched her career. She read that poem countless times, including an appearance at the University at Buffalo’s Educational Opportunity Center in 2017.

She became Buffalo’s first laureate in March of 2021, inspired by 20-year-old Amanda Gorman’s poem at Biden’s inauguration. Imagine, a Black girl who looked like the people she grew up with in Buffalo, performing her poetry before the President and the world.

Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” included these words: “Step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid … for there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.”

That message resonates today, as Buffalo reels from the worst mass shooting in the city’s history. Gorman is talking about eternal, unconquerable hope. Even in the midst of crushing sadness and dark times, a community still finds a light.

“Yeah,” Hanesworth said. “Because the people are the hope and the light. We are that. I know that as long as I have breath in my body, I’m not going to stop calling for change and accountability, calling for us to help dismantle these systemic problems. That right there is hopeful. We’re not going to stop.”

Still, it’s not easy to be “aflame and unafraid.” It’s also difficult to channel hope and anger at the same time, to see progress when a certain deranged element of the culture is indoctrinating young people with hate and lies that lead to violence.

Jillian Hanesworth is a Performing Arts grad who became Buffalo’s first poet laureate at age 28 (Image courtesy of Jillian Hanesworth)

“I think it’s a combination of anger and grief,” she said. “There is some fear. A lot of kids I’ve talked to have been really nervous about going into different grocery stores, or corner stores and gas stations.

“But I’ve watched the fear evolve into grief, and the grief is now evolving into a desire to help. I feel like as things evolve, I’ll figure out a way to make it evolve in writing as well. I don’t want to focus on hope without capturing grief. I think that would be a disservice to the community.”

“I started writing a little bit. It hasn’t come out all the way yet.”

When she spoke with WIVB a year ago, Hanesworth said that the Black community continues to get re-traumatized. It’s been a perpetual cycle for a community that came out of slavery and has suffered through continued racial injustice.

“When does it end?” she said. “People do get conditioned to that. That’s why I don’t like the ‘Buffalo Strong’ hashtag, because I don’t like the idea that we’re going to convince ourselves that being strong is more important than acknowledging the grief and acknowledging the pain.

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“I think a lot of people, especially on the East Side of Buffalo, have been forced to live in a perpetual state of survival. And it’s always something. If it’s not something with the police, it’s something in the water. If it’s not the water, it’s public health. It’s literacy, it’s crime, it’s housing.

“All of this is a symptom of poverty,” Hanesworth said. “If you’re not out here mourning the loss of our community members, you might be trying to figure out how to get to your paycheck. So we have been stuck in this state of survival. We don’t exist to survive. We can demand more. We are owed more.”

People don’t exist to survive, but they need to exist. For now, the priority is making sure the East Side feels protected and valued and that people have the things they need to get by.

“Everyone just wants to feel safe, and everyone is just doing the best they can,” she said. “A big part of what I see is people trying to find any way to help. A lady yesterday made a bunch of sandwiches at her house and just came and started feeding people. Making sure this community eats has been a huge priority, making sure they have access to food and formula and diapers.”

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“Today, a lot of our staff are out grocery shopping. We’re going to barbecue and hand out food. We’re also going through the stages of this, and trying to help each other through it.

“But when it’s time to go back we’re going back to work, and we’re going to remind people that these issues will continue to exist unless we start to organize against them. And if you want to learn how to organize against them, we’ll teach you.”

That means helping people from outside the community understand that they can help too, that everyone needs to come together to put an end to the violence and hate.

“When white people ask me ‘What can I do to help?’ I’m like, ‘You’ve got to be honest, you got to talk to the people at your dinner table and your Thanksgiving table. Talk to that uncle who makes you uncomfortable because he never takes off the MAGA hat.

“Those are the people you need to be targeting. Let us do the work to heal, and to get out of this state of survival. But you need to speak truth to power as well. Talk to your community. Stop this indoctrination. Stop people from thinking that white people are going to be outnumbered, or that it even matters.”

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There’s a lot to do, and Hanesworth keeps moving. Her friends and family urge her to make sure she eats and gets enough sleep. But her voice is supposed to inspire the people of Buffalo, and they’ve never needed it more.

On Tuesday night, there was the vigil at Jefferson and Riley. She’s waiting to hear about another vigil being organized with the hospitals. She’ll be speaking at that. Oh, and she’s scheduled to speak at UB’s EOC commencement Wednesday at Center for the Arts.

“Yeah. It’s not stopping,” she said. “I do like being busy, but I feel like being busy so much is making me feel old. I’m too tired. I feel like ‘Oh, I need a nap. My body hurts!'”

Then the poet laureate gazed out the window toward the Tops Market and talked about her dream to bring more art to the streets. What better way to restore life to a wounded city than to display the artwork of its citizens?

“We’re such an artistic community,” she said. “Something to celebrate the lives we lost, but also celebrate the life and the magic that’s within this community, that can’t be taken away. There’s certain things that you can’t kill.”

Jerry Sullivan is an award-winning journalist who joined the News 4 team in 2020 after three decades as a sports columnist at The Buffalo News. See more of his work here.

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