According to city of Binghamton Mayor Rich David, the Binghamton Police Department “acted appropriately” in an arrest last week at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), during which a YWCA staff member alleged officers used “excessive force.”
David, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell and Binghamton Police Chief Joseph Zikuski responded to the YWCA’s statement in a press conference on Friday. According to David, he reviewed the body cameras that the officers involved were wearing and cameras at the YWCA while investigating the incident.
“After reviewing the videos, I can say without hesitation the officers responded and acted appropriately, and I fully support each one of them,” David said. “The statements made by the YWCA are unacceptable and outrageous. They are completely false and contradict the evidence at hand.”
According to the YWCA’s Facebook post, an employee called the police when a dispute broke out between a resident and her former partner. The former partner, described in the post as a woman of color, was waiting outside the building to pick up her son.
By the time police arrived, the dispute had been resolved. However, multiple Binghamton police officers verbally attacked the former partner before wrestling her to the ground and arresting her in front of her son, according to the YWCA statement. Other individuals stepped in to comfort the child and call out the officers, but officers were allegedly “more aggressive” with individuals of color.
The former partner was charged with criminal trespass, endangering the welfare of a child, resisting arrest and harassment. Cornwell said the arrest at the YWCA was required by law because the incident was a domestic dispute.
In the statement, the YWCA employee wrote that “calling the police on a black woman with a child was a mistake.” However, David said residents should always call police when they need help.
David said he supports discussions about fostering positive relationships between residents of color and police to better serve and protect the community, but considers the YWCA Facebook post a hindrance to doing so.
“False allegations of wrongdoing only hurt progress in this area,” David said. “They also undermine attention to the very serious incidents in other parts of the country where officers had to be held accountable for their illegal actions.”
Although David said the YWCA should retract its statement and issue a public apology to the Binghamton Police Department, he also commended its role in the community.
“But despite these incredibly hurtful and false allegations by an individual, as an institution, the YWCA remains a tremendous asset in the city of Binghamton,” David said. “Its mission to eliminate racism, empower women, stand up for social justice, help families and strengthen communities is a noble one that we all should and do support.”
Nevertheless, Zikuski shied away from David’s praise of the organization during his portion of the press conference, and said the YWCA and related organizations have motives that digress from what he feels they should be doing to unite the community.
“The YWCA and a few other organizations that support them have their own agenda and it isn’t good,” Zikuski said. “Their agenda should be to try to put this community together, not to tear it apart and divide it, and that is exactly what they’re trying to do.”
The YWCA has yet to respond to commentary made at the press conference.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated both the YWCA employee and the former partner pressed charges against the Binghamton Police Department. This information was incorrect; no charges have been pressed against BPD regarding this incident. Pipe Dream regrets the error.