VESTAL, NY (WSKG) – Binghamton Mayor Rich David is criticizing a protest that disrupted the city’s Columbus Day parade on Monday.
The protestors said they were drawing attention to Broome County jail inmate deaths in recent years.
They blocked part of the parade route. Four people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. They are Masai Andrews, of Endwell, Erik M. Goetz, of Endicott, Sham-Al-Din Yasin Harper, of Binghamton, and Jordan P. Helin, of Binghamton.
David called some of the protestors cowards for wearing masks.
“What happened yesterday was not a peaceful protest. It was an illegal act,” David said. “Those arrested can, should and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
David wouldn’t comment on the issue of the inmate deaths. He said his issue isn’t what the protest was about, but how it was conducted.
“We’re not going to justify them or make excuses for them just because there may be some people who agree with the cause,” David said. “It’s not about the cause. It’s not about what they’re advocating for. It’s how they went about trying to execute it.
“You just can’t do that and we’re not going to look the other way,” David added, calling on state and local elected officials and candidates to condemn the protest.
Participating in the protest was the racial justice group PLOT, or Progressive Leaders of Tomorrow. David and other officials have criticized their protests against law enforcement in the past.
PLOT turned down WSKG’s interview request, but released a statement on Facebook saying they didn’t act alone in protest and it was a community effort. “What’s happening at the Broome County Jail is no less than genocide,” the statement read. “And we must stand against it by any means necessary.”