By Malik Patterson Gray
On October 30 the day before Halloween. A group of protesters stood outside of the Erie Country Holding Center located at 40 Delaware, Ave. Protesters stood in the cold for hours to bring attention to the recent deaths of inmates while in the care of the jail under Sheriff Timothy B. Howard’s administration.
There have been 31 deaths since Howard became sheriff in 2005 and the community has had enough. I spoke with, two protesters, Monica Lynch, the sister of Connell A. Burrell, 44, and Donna Robinson a community organizer for RAPP (Release Aging People In Prison). RAPP is an organization that works to end mass incarceration and promote racial justice by getting inform and elderly people out of prison.
“I don’t buy into this suicide theory,” said Robinson. I don’t buy into the heart attack diagnosis, that they have been putting on these certificates. This is murder.” She further went on to say, “For you not to get off your couch and support this cause it’s clear that you have blinders on because this is not a ‘me’ problem, not a ‘she’ problem but a everybody problem.” Robinson’s daughter was at the holding center the night India Cummings was arrested and murdered.
Lynch’s brother Burrell was an inmate who died at Buffalo General Medical Center two days after medical emergency on July 31, 2019. When asked if Sheriff Howard and his team have been supportive with providing information in regards to her brother she answered, “No I have not received any information at all… I have not received any recordings or medical paperwork since my brothers death.”
The community is asking for Howard to be dismissed from his current position as Sheriff and to be held accountable for the unprecedented large number of deaths at the holding center