A group of about 20 people stood silently in protest in the courtroom of Endicott Village Court on Wednesday morning.
The protest, entitled “Pack the Court,” was hosted by Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow (PLOT) in response to an incident in which an Endicott police officer subdued a black man with a stun gun last Sunday. The man later complained of chest pains and was examined by emergency medical technicians. Later, he was taken to the United Health Services Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City as a precautionary measure.
The man, Davon Johnson, 39, of Endicott, had originally been shocked after police officers responded to a motor vehicle accident in the 300 block of Odell Avenue. Although Johnson was a bystander and not involved in the crash, he allegedly became irate and yelled profanities at officers while they were at the accident site, according to a press release shared by Endicott Police Chief Patrick Garey. Additionally, police say Johnson tried to take a body camera from a police officer at the scene. Johnson and his wife, Starkeema Griffin, were arrested for disorderly conduct. The driver who caused the accident was also arrested.
“While officers attempted to handcuff Johnson, he physically resisted and fought with officers, refusing to be handcuffed,” a press release read.
According to Garey, the incident is currently undergoing internal review, and remains under investigation. He declined to comment further.
According to an event page created by PLOT on Facebook, the protest was intended to denounce EPD’s actions and support those who were arrested.
“Our intention is to support the victims, observe the proceedings and see to it that all charges are immediately dropped,” the page read.
PLOT, a grassroots organization founded in 2014, focuses on issues of race, class, gender and state violence while aiming to empower and liberate marginalized members of society.
The protest took place during Griffin’s appearance in court. As she was called to the stand, participants stood up in the courtroom. Sarah Wood, a member of PLOT and a senior majoring in human development, said she came to the protest because she felt it was important to support Griffin.
“I came out today because I think the overt police brutality in this town has become more surface level,” Wood said. “It is important to show support against mistreatment by the state.”
Griffin was released on her own recognizance and another court date was scheduled. After exiting the courtroom, she thanked the group for its support.
“I really appreciate you coming today,” Griffin said. “I am thankful everyone came to support me. I had anxiety coming here, but seeing everyone here made me feel better.”
According to Griffin, she and her husband plan to issue a civil suit against the parties involved in the incident.
“His speech and his train of thought are worse now,” Griffin said. “We are pursuing suing because we were mistreated and it occurred in front of the whole neighborhood and, most importantly, our children.”