August 3, 2010

Brown Arrest is a Sad Commentary on Buffalo

Since the news broke yesterday afternoon that the son of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Byron Brown Jr., had been arrested for shoplifting, both public comment and our own thoughts have been on a rollercoaster.
Honestly, even though we generally despise Brown on policy matters, we wouldn’t wish such a thing on anyone. It must be heart-rending for a father to watch his son and namesake arrested for a crime that will, in the Internet age, follow him for the rest of his life.
However, we must also consider what’s good for the community as well. Unfortunately, this isn’t Byron Brown Jr.’s first brush with the law. And this time, unlike the last, Byron Jr. was caught in the act.
Rewind to 2007. On Feb. 24th of that year, Byron Jr. could have still qualified for youthful offender status. A 5 a.m. joyride by Brown the Younger became the stuff of legend when, in an attempt to cover up their son’s involvement after he successfully lied to his parents about his involvement in three hit-and-runs, Mrs. Byron Brown reported the family SUV stolen. Boy Genius had rammed the vehicle into three different parked cars at Canisius College.
Aside from the fact the earlier case was downright bizarre (Since Brown was out joyriding still at 7:05 that morning, and had to walk home from the site where he dumped the SUV, we find it really hard to imagine his absence wasn’t noted…on the same day the SUV was “stolen.” But we digress) this points to the beginnings of a pattern in Mini-B's behavior. And that's a problem.
Young Byron is going to have a hard time in court. The truth of things is, the justice system tries to be lenient to first-time offenders. Why? Because people—especially young people—make mistakes. And so it was with the judge in Li’l Byron’s case. The mayor’s son walked away after paying a $275 fine. Which, for a boy who had managed to find a seat at City Honors, seemed like a fair warning about future behavior: we’ll let you reevaluate the direction you’re going, and if we never see you again, you’ll eventually forget about this little scrape, and so will we.
When they show up in front of a judge again, however, that balance tends to change. And Byron Brown Jr. just became a repeat offender. He has, in the parlance of cops, or at least cop shows, a rap sheet. Something tells us that Sonny Brown may not walk away unscathed this time.
There’s much that can be observed in this affair. Maybe the justice system was too lenient the first time. Maybe fathers who spend their lives in politics need to devote more attention to what their own families are doing, rather than trying to stack the local police force with loyal allies. Maybe James A. Williams, the superintendent of Buffalo’s schools, was right when he blamed the culture in Buffalo for juvenile crime—as well as an absence of parental involvement.
Of one thing, though, we are certain. The Brown family—and this blog—hope that Byron Brown Jr. avoids incarceration at the Erie County Holding Center.

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