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Police investigating Pridgen's claims of denied access to waterfront party

A Buffalo Police spokesman says an internal investigation is underway to address claims by the Buffalo Common Council President that while many of his guests were turned back from an Independence Day cookout, guests of his neighbors were not subject to similar scrutiny.

Council President Darius Pridgen says many of his guests were also asked for identification by Buffalo Police who were supervising traffic near the waterfront on July 4. Pridgen claims other guests, who didn't "look like him," had no trouble entering his neighborhood to visit other parties or events. 

Pridgen recorded and released a message on his personal Facebook account, suggesting this is not the first time it has happened.

"People should be able to go to Canalside, be in downtown and not have any fear that their access will be limited," Pridgen said.

Police Lieutenant Jeff Rinaldo on Wednesday stated that upon hearing Pridgen's complaint, Commissioner Daniel Derenda ordered an internal probe.

"We expect everybody to be treated equally," Rinaldo said. "When accusations arise that that hasn't occurred, the commissioner is quick to open up an investigation and we look at it."

Pridgen, in his Facebook message, said he is not criticizing the Buffalo Police Department but there is a need to respect equal access to the waterfront and downtown for people of all backgrounds.

"If people act up, arrest them. If people are fighting, arrest them. If people are selling drugs, arrest them. If people have illegal weapons, arrest them," Pridgen said in his Facebook message. "But if people just want access, be kind to them. That's all it's about."

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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