‘You’re Playing Games with Me’: Man Accused of Wielding Knife at BLM Protesters Slammed By Judge In Hate Crimes Case

A Western New Yorker facing hate crime charges after a confrontation with Black Lives Matter protesters faced further scrutiny from the judge presiding over his case last week after he asked to represent himself during a hearing.

In the summer of 2020, Michael J. Cremen, 47, and a friend confronted a group of Black Lives Matter protesters on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo, New York. He and another man reportedly blocked off marchers while brandishing a knife and screaming racial slurs at the crowd.

Man Accused of Wielding Knife at BLM Protesters Slammed By Judge In Hate Crimes Case
Michael J. Cremen is accused of pulling a knife on protesters. (Photo: YouTube screenshot/WGRZ-TV)

The situation escalated when he started shoving one of the protesters, resulting in their arrest. Cremen now faces a felony charge of second-degree menacing as a hate crime and second-degree harassment.

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“An individual from Franklinville felt comfortable to come to this community and engage in hate speech and put his hands on a member of our community. Well, we will absolutely not tolerate that. We will not tolerate any form of violence in our community, and the Buffalo Police operated swiftly to find this individual and to have them arrested,” said Buffalo County mayor Byron Brown during a press conference about the incident.

Cremen failed to make several court appearances before finally being indicted with second-degree bail jumping last May. He attempted to bid for bail but was denied by the judge.

“There is no way I’m going to release him and take another chance on him,” State Supreme Court justice M. William Boller said. “I took one chance, and he blew it big time.”

Last week, for roughly 15 minutes, Cremen managed to get Boller to agree to let Cremen represent himself as his attorney. But that decision was swiftly reversed when he questioned the true intentions of the accused.

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Before granting his request, Boller had warned Cremen of the risks and disadvantages of representing himself without an attorney.

Cremen accepted the risks and opted to have his attorney, Emily Trott, as his standby adviser.

Boller had gone over a list of questions with Cremen before allowing him to proceed with the decision. The final question became the most glaring to the judge when he asked Cremen if he felt pressured or threatened to give up his right to a lawyer, only for Cremen to answer “yes.”

Ten minutes later, prosecutors asked Boller to recall the case, and Cremen was asked to clarify what he meant when he gave his answer. He claimed he understood the nature of the question, but when asked again, he said, “I’ll say no.”

Boller asked if Cremen was messing around.

“No is my answer,” Cremen said.

Prosecutors asked for clarification on why he said “yes” before, only for Cremen to reply
“I have thoughts about this whole proceeding.”

This was enough for the judge to deny the request.

“You’re playing games with me,” the judge said.

Cremen remains in custody at the Erie County Correctional Facility, and his next court date is scheduled for April 8, 2024.

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