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Activist groups plan public demonstrations over violent Binghamton police arrest

Vaughn Golden

A group of activist organizations are planning several public demonstrations in the coming weeks, calling for charges against Hamail Waddell to be dismissed, and for other actions after a Binghamton police officer was seen kneeling on his neck during an arrest earlier this month.

Waddell was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day in downtown Binghamton. An officer was seen kneeling on Waddell’s neck during the arrest.

Activist organizations, including Justice in Unity in the Southern Tier, Binghamton Tenants Union, Divestment, Accountability, and Reinvestment in Our Community, Stakeholder of Broome County, and Citizen Action of New York, Southern Tier Chapter, among others, want the officer fired from the police department and charged with felony counts of strangulation. Other demands include removing school resource officers from Binghamton schools and pausing all state funding for the police department until reform measures are implemented.

"None of these demands are new. The only thing we're asking now at this point in time is just that they listen because we have it right on video, evidence as to why this has always been a problem,” Shanel Boyce, one of the organizers said.

Boyce said she and others will continue pressing the city, even though they’re disappointed in what they see as a lack of progress to reform policing in the past few years.

"Do I expect anything different? I think as an organizer I have to say and as a community member I have to say, I always have to expect something different because then why do we do this?” Boyce said.

The activists say they plan to speak at upcoming city council and school board meetings. They also plan to show up for Waddell’s court hearing next week.

Binghamton Mayor Jared Kraham told WBNG the situation is being investigated and that Kaczynski remains on administrative duties.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.