An argument between a Buffalo lawmaker and his staff resulted in his employees being let go.
The back-and-forth between Burke, who is white, and his staffers started Monday, former staffer Matthew T.H. Dearing told the newspaper, after the employees asked him to stand up to racism in the city.
Dearing, along with other ex-staffers Nicole Golias and Brendan Keany, shared their frustration toward the lawmaker with Buffalo news outlet WIVB.
“In an attempt to sort of appeal to our shared humanity, to appeal to a friend, I asked him... ‘What would you have done if I had been in that store,’” Dearing, who is Black, said.
Dearing told WIVB that Burke planned to condemn the “replacement theory” in a speech to the New York State Assembly after the shooting.
His tone, he said, would later change.
“The direct quote was, ‘I’m not giving up my seat for this issue,’” Dearing told WIVB.
Burke, in a statement to the news outlet, said he found the staffers’ accusations “bizarre, offensive and completely off base” with his history of condemning white supremacy.
“It was clear that they no longer believed in me or the decisions I make,” Burke said in a statement.
“I cannot retain a staff that I no longer trust or that no longer trust me and had to make the difficult decision to fire them.”
He pointed to his social media posts and speeches in response to the shooting as proof of his condemnation.
I'm sickened by the news of a racially motivated mass shooting in my city. If the information is accurate, the shooter live streamed part of the shooting and scrolled on the barrel of the gun was the N word. Heartbroken for the victims, their families, and all of Buffalo.
— Pat Burke 🦬 🗽 (@PatBurkeNY) May 14, 2022
I stood with my colleagues to condemn the act of terrorism in Buffalo. White supremacy and nativism are purposefully being spread across our nation. More than thoughts and prayers, we need action. I'm submitting legislation to root out extremism https://t.co/eJETEXPPnq
— Pat Burke 🦬 🗽 (@PatBurkeNY) May 18, 2022
Burke said he also received accusations of being a “political coward,” according to The Buffalo News, and that one staffer made a comment about Burke’s family that includes three mixed children.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.