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Incident at Canalside

Last Thursday, after the Canalside concert, my friends and I wandered over to the merchandise table and proceeded to buy a poster and a shirt after a wonderful show. As it was a beautiful night, we decided to hang around the boardwalk area right across from the Liberty Hound restaurant. The restaurant had music playing, so two of us began to dance, enjoying life. No one was around us, and it was an area where nothing needed to be cleaned after the show.

Approximately five minutes later, a security guard tells us we have to leave and motions to two police officers mounted on horseback. One officer is an older male with gray hair and a mustache and the other is a female. The male officer calls us “children” (I’m 24) as he proceeds to forcefully tell us, “You have to leave.” No explanation, just leave. When their attempt at intimidation fails and I don’t respond with total compliance (as I am aware that the harbor does not actually ever close), the male officer becomes more aggressive and violent, telling me once again that I need to leave. I ask him repeatedly if the park is closed until he responds, “That’s what I’m telling you.” So with that lie, I begin to walk towards the bridge to exit when the officers bring their horses so close to me we are touching, so naturally I back away, as these are very big animals and a little scary! With that, the officer yells as if I am trying to escape and attempts to grab my shirt collar, which in itself is appalling. I reluctantly take my leave.

What upset me most about this event was not the fact that the police entirely abused their power and offered no explanation for their actions. It’s not even that I had every right to stay in that park all night if I wanted to. What angered me the most was the way in which my friends and I were targeted because the police most undoubtedly labeled us as young troublemakers and simply wanted us out. There was no respect shown, no sensible dialogue, just force. I am appalled that after spending money on the subway, food, and merchandise, that I was treated in this manner, for doing nothing more than dancing. This is an open letter to Buffalo Place, and no response will be viewed as an approval of the actions taken by the police. Please inform the public if this is your policy on treating paying customers of your events. It is truly a shameful and cowardly moment for the Buffalo Police and Buffalo Place.

- Harrison Bergeron, Buffalo

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