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Southern Tier Activists Form Coalition For 'People's Protection'

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) - Activists from across the Southern Tier took to the Broome County Courthouse on Friday to denounce a set of legislative proposals circulated by the New York Sheriff's Association last week.

In a news conference last week, Broome County Sheriff David Harder said the ten proposals seek to increase protections for law enforcement personnel.

According to members of the newly-formed People’s Protection Plan Coalition, the legislation is a thinly-veiled attempt to expand police budgets and reduce accountability.

“It is an attempt to give them unfettered power, make it easier for them to abuse, incarcerate, arrest, brutalize and even kill members of our community without consequence or oversight,” said Maliyka Muhammad, a member of Citizen Action.

The coalition aligns members of Citizen Action, Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier, Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow and Truth Pharm in drafting demands to protect Black lives and the right to protest, as well as empower communities across the region.

In their response to each of the ten legislative proposals, the coalition wrote that passing these laws would limit residents' capacity to bring up complaints against police and police officers' ability to speak up against internal abuse and afford police protection beyond the average citizen.

During last week's press conference, Sheriff Harder spoke dismissively of community organizers in Binghamton, who call for defunding the police. Harder said he would not meet with community activists and called them "nosy" and “stupid".

“Most of the people holding 'defund' signs were not members of activist organizations,” said Andrew Pragacz of Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier and representative of the People's Protection Plan Coalition. “Rather, they were sick and tired of seeing their friends, family members and U.S. residents subjected to state violence.”

The coalition plans to release a plan with a list of further actions in August, and will host a march against police abuse and overreach in Binghamton on Sunday. Rallies in Owego, Cortland, Norwich and Delhi in support of the plan are to come next week.