BUFFALO, N.Y. — “In this country, you’re innocent until you’re proven guilty. Miss Walton has been treated like a criminal. She was treated like she was guilty.”
That was longtime activist Betty Jean Grant’s assessment of a recent Buffalo News article about Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton.
The story which ran Monday chronicled Walton’s 2018 forced departure from a home she was renting in the city’s Fruit Belt neighborhood. At issue, a neighbor complained that a male friend of Walton’s was using the house to sell drugs. The article does point out the male friend was never arrested and the story does rely on a few unnamed sources.
“If you can complain about an issue, you should be courageous enough to have your name printed,” said Grant, who led a late morning demonstration outside The Buffalo News building. About a dozen and a half people were on hand for the protest. Grant has also been a consistent supporter of Walton's campaign.
But while Grant said the article was full of “half-truths, misstatements, and misallegations,” Walton’s campaign did not offer criticism about the article when 2 On Your Side contacted it for comment.
The Walton campaign did offer a brief statement including, “We are aware of the demonstration and humbled by the outpouring support from our neighbors.” But the campaign insists there was no coordination with Grant about Wednesday's demonstration.
This is not the first unflattering story about Walton. Just last month while being interviewed by 2 On Your Side’s Claudine Ewing, Walton discussed her 2014 arrest linked to an order of protection filed against her by a nurse she was working with at the time.
“The things that are coming out about me regarding my past is not an uncommon thing and it’s not something that says I’m a bad person. It’s something that says I’m an average person,” said Walton in the interview.
But that and other critical stories were not met demonstrations.
When it was pointed out, Walton agreed to be interviewed for The Buffalo News story, Grant suggested that it was a mistake by a person new to politics, “I think that if she had to have counsel, she would have had somebody like me there, I would tell her to be sure that you don’t put fuel on a fire when there’s nothing really beyond those initial embers.”
2 On Your Side also reached out to the newspaper for comment. Editor, Michael Connolly responded with this:
"In election coverage, our job is to tell readers as much as possible about the candidates. In the Buffalo mayoral race, the news will keep working hard to ensure voters have the best possible information about the candidates, their campaigns, and their plans for Buffalo.”