On Tuesday, the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of Binghamton and Broome County publicly announced in a Facebook post that it had submitted a formal complaint to the Binghamton Police Department (BPD) regarding its “excessive use of force” on a black woman during an incident at YWCA’s facility last Saturday.
According to the YWCA, a domestic dispute occurred between a resident and her former partner. Children were present during the dispute, and a YWCA staff member pressed a panic button and called for police assistance to de-escalate the situation. After the first officer arrived, the couple had ended their altercation and separated.
“The former partner, a woman of color, was waiting outside of the building with her young son,” the post read. “Without justification, they wrestled her to the ground using what any reasonable person would define as excessive force. All of this occurred in front of her young son who was screaming out for her the entire time. Many individuals attempted to help by stepping in to comfort the child or to call out the officers. Officers were noticeably more aggressive with the individuals of color.”
Afterward, Lisa McFarlane, 36, of Endicott, was taken into custody and charged with aggravated family offense, resisting arrest, endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree criminal trespass and second-degree harassment. It is unclear whether McFarlane was the resident or the former partner in the dispute.
BPD has stated it plans to internally review the incident.
According to the YWCA, the unacceptable treatment of McFarlane by BPD has led it to reexamine its policies on how to respond to disturbances.
“In retrospect, calling the police on a black woman with a child was a dangerous mistake,” the post read. “One we apologize for and hope to learn from. We are currently reviewing our policies on how to respond to disturbances at our facility.”
It is not the first time BPD has been accused of using excessive force on people of color. On Aug. 11, multiple police officers confronted and detained two black teenagers in the parking lot of Horace Mann Elementary School near Recreation Park.
One teenager, a 13-year-old girl, was handcuffed for spray painting a wall by the school. While observing the incident, a 14-year-old boy with various cognitive and developmental disabilities was stopped and searched twice by police. He was later pinned down by three officers, handcuffed and detained at a mobile police unit.
In protest of BPD’s treatment of the two teenagers, Justice and Unity for the Southern Tier and the Progressive Leaders Of Tomorrow held a march and rally on Aug. 17 with roughly 200 people, including Binghamton University students, in attendance.
According to the YWCA, incidents of excessive force by BPD are horrific and traumatizing, especially for children in the community.
“Incidents like this [affect] the entire community, particularly our children who are internalizing the message that the police cannot be counted on to respond appropriately,” the post read. “Unfortunately, we know this was not an isolated event. The racism and violence exhibited by the police should never have occurred, and cannot continue. The police officers must be held accountable.”