Protest at Wegmans in Johnson City Ends in Arrests
A protest against police brutality taking place at the Wegmans in Johnson City was shut down by a variety of law enforcement organizations on Wednesday night.
According to the organizer's event page on Facebook, the protest was organized in response to a January 1st incident where Binghamton Police Officer Brad Kaczynski appeared to kneel on local resident Hamail Waddell's neck in a video. Kaczynski was assigned to desk duty while the incident is being investigated. Three Democratic members of Binghamton's City Council called for an independent investigation into the incident.
Then weeks later, the City of Memphis released footage of Tyre Nichols being beaten by five former Memphis police officers. He later died as a result of the incident. The incident sparked a new round of protests nationwide, nearly three years after the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.
According to the event page, organizers chose the Wegmans site for their protest because of it's location, history of support for the Johnson City Police Department, and because Wegmans made a statement in 2020 saying they stand with the Black community in condemning racial injustice. The event page noted that they were putting that statement to the test by hosting their protest at the supermarket.
According to a report by Matthew Benninger of WBNG, about 20 minutes after the protest started, Wegmans requested that the protesters be removed from the area. Officers from the Johnson City, Binghamton, Endicott, Broome County Sheriff, and State Police arrived at the scene to remove the protesters.
Tyler Cunnington of WICZ posted a nearly 10 minute video of the protest being shut down by law enforcement officers.
Sarah Eames of the Binghamton Press and Sun-Bulletin posted another video of one of their reporters being pepper sprayed by a police officer, while two other officers made an arrest in front of the reporter.
According to Benninger's report, by 7:35 pm the protest had been dispelled, and the Wegmans store closed its doors over four hours earlier than scheduled. Johnson City Police Chief Brent Dodge told WBNG that multiple protestors were arrested and felony charges are expected.
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