Protesters pack Johnson City Courthouse in response to arrests made at Wegmans

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 5:51 PM EST
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JOHNSON CITY (WBNG) -- Arraignments took place Wednesday for two of the 15 arrested at protests at Wegmans on Feb. 1. at the Johnson City Courthouse.

Arraignments for others arrested during the protest will continue throughout the remainder of February and into March. At Wednesday’s arraignments, the courtroom’s maximum capacity of 36 people was reached and some were denied entry to the courtroom.

After the arraignments, people gathered outside the Johnson City Police Department to talk about police brutality in the area.

Former Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan, who was arrested at the Feb. 1 protest, said a representative from Wegmans was in attendance to issue a two-year ban from all stores to those who were arrested at it.

Protest organizers gave a list of demands to local police which included that charges be dropped against protestors from Feb 1, the Binghamton officer involved in the New Year’s Day kneeling incident be immediately fired and officers who were present during the kneeling incident be investigated among other demands.

The Johnson City Police Department released the following statement regarding the initial protest at Wegmans and the one today at the Johnson City Courthouse:

The local police community stands in solidarity with the protestors in their outrage and disgust over the unlawful killing of people such as Tyre Nichols and George Floyd. We also support their right to lawfully protest, even when that protest is aimed at us.

With that having been said, it is important that law enforcement builds trust with the community. The foundation for that trust must be rooted in the truth. The social media flyer advertising today’s protest of the police response to the February 1st protest is not truthful. It states that those involved were “attacked” and “assaulted.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that law enforcement attempted to make lawful arrests after protestors refused to leave.

Camera footage of the incident conclusively shows that no officer struck any protestor at any time. No officer threw a single punch, kick, or strike of any kind. No batons were used, no tasers were used, no guns were drawn. Body camera footage shows that officers did not even use any abusive or derogatory language, despite that language being directed at them. Instead, officers followed the law, practiced restraint, and utilized open-hand techniques to try to effect lawful arrests, and two one-second bursts of OC spray to move the groups back after multiple advanced warnings.