BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Following a controversial Binghamton Police Department arrest that occurred on New Year’s Day, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST) and several other organizations held a news conference today at Binghamton City Hall.
According to the joint press release sent by JUST, “Shortly after 3AM on January 1st, 2023, Binghamton Police assaulted Hamail Waddell, 24, on State Street. Waddell, who is Black and Asian, was a bystander attempting to de-escalate a fight when police seized him and threw him to the ground.”
The group claims that an officer then kneeled on Waddell’s neck in a way that is illegal under New York’s Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.
The press release says that the officer involved in the incident was a school resource officer while Waddell was in high school.
The group announced the following demands at the 2 p.m. conference:
- That all charges against Hamail Waddell be immediately dropped.
- That the officer involved is fired from the Binghamton Police Department and charged with aggravated strangulation.
- That all officers who were present are forbidden from serving as SRO’s in BCSD schools.
- The immediate removal of all SRO’s from BCSD schools.
- That the State of New York immediately discontinue any state funding to the City of Binghamton used for policing, in accordance with Executive Order 203 of June 2020, which authorizes the state budget director to withhold state funding from localities failing to adopt meaningful police reforms.
- The immediate closure of the Law Enforcement Academy operated by the Broome County Sheriff’s Office.
On January 6th, the Binghamton Police Department released a statement stating that the officer involved in the incident has been placed on desk duty pending the investigation.
BPD also asked bystanders to send photos and videos of the arrest to them to help determine the facts.
At today’s conference, community organizer Shanel Boyce said, “We’ve had a couple of local prosecutors and public defenders reach out to the attorney general’s office so we know there will be an investigation by the attorney general and we do encourage people who are concerned to also make complaint to the attorney general’s office so that they can formally open an investigation.”
The organizations are also planning more public demonstrations, including at tomorrow evening’s City Council meeting and at Waddell’s arraignment next week.
And they’ve invited activists from across the state to attend as well.
In a statement, Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham reiterated that an investigation of the arrest is ongoing, prompted by Waddell’s official complaint.
Kraham goes on to say that organizations are repeating tired demands that amount to defunding the police.
He calls them extreme proposals that have no merit or support in the community.
The participating organizations include:
Divestment, Accountability, and Reinvestment in Our Community (DAROC)
Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier (JUST)
Stakeholders of Broome County (SBC)
Binghamton Tenants Union (BTU)
Citizen Action of New York, Southern Tier Chapter
Riot Act Books
Binghamton University Student Tenants Union
Zero Hour Binghamton
Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (IDEAS)
Powerful United Ladies Striving to Educate (PULSE)