Statement By Duane Whitmer, 2nd Vice Chair, LPNY & Chair, Erie County Libertarian Party

By now some of you have seen videos of the event that happened Friday night at a gym in Orchard Park.
I attended that meeting as a Libertarian and as a small business owner. The meeting was not a Trump rally, it was not a “COVID isn’t real” meeting–it was a diverse group of small business owners with an array of differing political opinions, coming together to discuss how to stay open, how to pay their bills, and how to make sure their families will stay fed in case of another lockdown.
What I heard at the meeting was small business owners getting shut down and losing their livelihoods while big box retailers are allowed to stay open with limited regulations. I saw fear, anger, frustration, disappointment, and desperation from people who feel they have been left behind by the government and have been ostracized by the public as evil psychopaths hell bent on killing your family.
During the meeting, health department officials escorted by Erie County Sheriff’s Deputies walked into this private building, through closed doors after business hours, completely unannounced, as I was the first person to interact with them. After failing to provide a warrant and listening to my pleas for compassion and understanding, the frustration and anger boiled over into chants and an intolerance for the presence of these taxpayer-funded bureaucrats. They were promptly, nonviolently, rebuffed and marched off the property.
You will continue to see this act of civil disobedience, which could in turn get worse, if the conversations are not held to support these small businesses in this time of crisis. Please tune in to our press conference tomorrow at 11AM, where we will call on Erie County Sheriff Howard to direct his deputies to stop working with the Department of Health. If you are a business owner who wants to get involved or needs a network of support, please reach out. Any business that provides an income for someone to pay their bills and feed their families is essential.
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