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Franklinville man charged with threatening BLM protesters with knife

Buffalo Police announced the arrest of a Cattaraugus County man Monday afternoon, charging him with a hate crime after he allegedly held a knife and confronted Black Lives Matter protesters on Hertel Avenue Friday evening.

Credit Tom Dinki/WBFO News
Protesters make their way down Hertel Avenue Friday evening, not long after two men, including one with a knife, attempted to block them.

Michael Cremen, 47, of Franklinville is charged with harassment, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. He will be arraigned Oct. 8.

The arrest comes after a man was seen on many social media videos brandishing a knife during Black Lives Matters protests on Hertel Avenue Friday, which coincided with the anniversary of the 1963 civil rights March on Washington.

The videos show two men blocking marchers as they make their way along Hertel Avenue past Parkside Avenue. One of the men can be seen holding a knife in his hand, yelling racial obscenities and threatening marchers. A Buffalo Police officer sits in a patrol car just a few feet away. 

"According to a complainant, the defendant was in the middle of the street at the intersection of Hertel and Parkside, using racial slurs and threatening the protestors. At one point, the defendant did display a knife and pushed one of the protestors, " police said in a prepared statement.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said incidents like this won't be tolerated, whether alleged violence or the hate speech. He said police found it easier to identify the suspects, since neither wore face masks.

"An individual from Franklinville felt comfortable to come to this community and engage in hate speech and put his hands on a member of our community. Well, we will absolutely not tolerate that. We will not tolerate any form of violence in our community and the Buffalo Police operated swiftly to find this individual and to have them arrested," Brown said.

The mayor said the protesters have a basic First Amendment right to protest and exercise free speech.

"The individual wasn't smart. Obviously, a lot of hatred in this person's heart," Brown said. "People are going through a lot right now, a lot of challenges. Three major crises we're dealing with: the COVID-19 health pandemic, the crisis of systemic racism and an economic crisis."

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.