Image : Myles Carter Leads Rally at Erie County Holding Center on June 9, Alongside Cariol Horne, Geneva Reed-Veal (Mother of Sandra Bland), and other Community Advocates. Image Tito Ruiz
by Myles Carter
Born and raised in Western New York, I am a fervent community builder, organizer, activist, intrapreneur, entrepreneur, and change agent. I have survived police brutality, homelessness, the wicked Erie County Foster Care system, lived in a domestic violence shelter with my six siblings, and helped my mother overcome her longtime battle with drug addiction. Because of the cards I was dealt early on, I was forced to advocate on my family’s behalf. These experiences have shaped me into the dedicated community advocate that I’ve become. I’m also a volunteer chaplain at the Erie County jails, motivational speaker, notary public, and a father of five amazing children. I am endorsed by Democratic Socialists of America, and I am prepared to make a bold impact as Erie County’s first Black sheriff.
There’s a huge misconception that a law enforcement background is needed to become Erie County Sheriff. (The sheriff–like the mayor who oversees the Buffalo Police Department without a law enforcement background–is a policy making elected official.) For decades, the law enforcement mindset has driven Erie County jails and our community into a state of despair. What’s needed for true progressive change is an outsider that is a humanitarian, visionary, and a caring leader.
As Erie County Sheriff, my ultimate goal will be to create a system of accountability, equality, and equity for the entire department. I will work to create a safe, just, diverse, and inclusive county. Most of the $126 million annual sheriff’s department budget is spent on our jails, so jail reconstruction will be one of my primary areas of focus. On day one, I will implement Cariol’s Law to ensure deputies have a duty to intervene when a colleague uses excessive force or breaks the law. Additionally, I will halt the cruel practice of solitary confinement; further de-prioritize marijuana; and ensure that incarcerated women at the jails are supervised by women, in response to the astronomical number of assault cases.
Throughout the years, department funds have been spent unnecessarily on excessive employee overtime and countless misconduct and negligence lawsuits. Those are monies that can be allocated into our community to provide education, job training, mental health services, and other vital programs. Furthermore, with the abundance of missing persons cases in Erie County, the sheriff’s department has no missing persons list or task force. As sheriff, the implementation of these critical measures will be paramount.
As a chaplain at the county jails, I’ve witnessed firsthand the utter disregard for humanity. Incarcerated humans have been maliciously targeted and subjected to inadequate services, neglect, brutality, and death at the hands of law enforcement. Since 2015, under Howard’s command, there have been 36 reported deaths at the county jails. In 2019 alone, there were 400 instances of sexual assault and abuse that the sheriff’s department failed to report. India Cummings was a 26-year-old woman who died a horrific death at the Erie County Holding Center in 2016. The New York State Commission of Corrections Medical Review Board found the medical and mental health care Cummings received at the ECHC was “so grossly incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience.” Yet, no one was fired or arrested, and my opponents have yet to acknowledge her wrongful death.
Long before I decided to run for sheriff, I led rallies outside of the ECHC alongside other community activists and faith-based leaders. Our mission has been to create change and demand accountability from Sheriff Tim Howard and local and state politicians for the crimes against humanity committed at the county jails. Just last week, we held rallies for three consecutive days outside of the ECHC, in which the mother of Sandra Bland partook.
Our recent call to action at the ECHC arose when I received a call that Devon Cottom was transferred to the ECHC on May 19, following the riots at the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden. He has since been held in solitary confinement with no paperwork produced to justify why. Mr. Cottom lost phone privileges and was denied visits with the jail chaplain and his attorney. Furthermore, other incarcerated people have made complaints of stomach illness, skin rashes, and stated that they have been deprived of food and medical attention.
For several years, there’s been a series of local community working groups assembled to address the concerns created by systemic oppression via law enforcement and incarceration. I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with them to review and discuss solutions. Even with the incremental progress that we have achieved, there is still so much work to be done.
Voting for Myles Carter is a vote for the real change in the Erie County Sheriff’s Department our community so desperately needs.
To learn more about Myles Carter’s platform, leadership experience, and community service please visit www.linktree.com/mylescarter