SLOAN – The owner of the Reiman Street property which is under the magnifying glass of village officials emailed Cheektowaga Chronicle Monday defending their tenant and called our April 12th report “inaccurate” and accuses our publication of trying to cause unrest in the neighborhood.
In two separate emails from the owner of 333 Reiman Street, Mary Anne Pawlowski-Merritt accuses Cheektowaga Chronicle of not taking proper steps to research the facts of our April 12th article and rushed to find negative things about their tenant, John Washington.
“We can see a lot of inaccurate things in your article, and it looks to us like you are trying to create unrest in that neighborhood over a Blackman coming into this area,” Ms. Pawlowski-Merritt wrote.
She says our reporting stirred up people in the neighborhood because of our “delusions of being a Woodward and Bernstein of Cheektowaga.”
The Cheektowaga Chronicle stands by our accurate and fair report. After gathering both sides of the issue from the Village of Sloan and Mr. Washington Tuesday evening, Cheektowaga Chronicle took two full days to verify the facts and reported them late Thursday evening.
During our reporting, we found discrepancies with some of Mr. Washington’s claims. His first claim of ownership – “I put it in my grandmother’s name when I bought the building just for tax reasons” – was debunked by researching Erie County Real Property Records through the Clerk’s Office.
A second claim of being a police officer – “I shouldn’t have to identify who I am. I shouldn’t have to use my, say I’m a police officer. I’m not going to do that, I’m a citizen like you when I take my uniform off” – was vetted by a search of SeeThroughNY.net. We did not find an active or retired police officer locally by that name and a Buffalo Police Department spokesperson told Cheektowaga Chronicle that they do not have an officer on the force by that name.
“During your phone call to us the other evening you told us that John Washington was posing as a Policeman and at the time your statement appeared to be a little crazy. When speaking to him he mentioned that you had made the same statement to him and that he has made it clear that this assertion by you was nonsense and untrue and unfounded,” wrote Ms. Pawlowski-Merritt.
It is important to note that all of Mr. Washington’s claims – especially the serious one of being a police officer – were made of his own free will. His distortion of the event to his landlord is easily proved by reviewing the audio recordings made by Cheektowaga Chronicle and Cheektowaga Bee during our joint interview last Tuesday.
She also supports Mr. Washinton’s baseless claims of being discriminated against by the village government because of his race.
“If this is true and if there is even a hint that he has been targeted due to his color this might attract both local, regional and national attention to this matter. In this day and age Racial Discrimination wakes the headlines and can invite a lot of scrutiny from various authorities. With the Black Lives Matter, publicity seeking black groups like Al Sharpton and others and lawyers looking to make a name for themselves we do not want to be caught up in any issues like that,” wrote Ms. Pawlowski-Merritt.
She says that her and her husband, a senior citizen couple, purchased this property as an investment property and “in some ways were pushed into purchasing this place due to our lack of understanding on some of the potential issues that could come up.”
“It is hard to see why you want to target a legitimate businessman and a young man trying to get ahead and to damage the retirement investment of two senior citizens that have done nothing more than to rent an apartment and a former bar space to an African American person. We are not aware of any idea on Mr. Washington’s part of running a strip club and if it can be a proven fact that he is running any type of establishment that is illegal we would expect this if it were to be the case as a matter for the authorities and not for you.”
Cheektowaga Chronicle will continue to be vigilant and courageous in reporting this story, and should the need arise in the future, give a voice to the voiceless – the neighbors of 333 Reiman Street and the residents of the Village of Sloan.
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