“A notion that I heard a lot when I was canvassing running for office, is that all of ‘these people’ come up from New York City to Binghamton,” said Aviva Friedman, a Democratic Binghamton council member who often clashed with the former mayor . “You know, coded term for, ‘Oh, these poor people of color, Black people.’ They’re not talking about SUNY students. ”
Periodically, there have been incidents in the area and surrounding regions that have hinted at ugly racial attitudes among some young people in particular.
In 2018, swastikas were found spray-painted on walls at Binghamton High School. Last winter, a Black teacher at Windsor High School, a short drive from Conklin, complained after students in the mostly white community dressed in racist costumes for a “Gangsta Night” at a school basketball game. And in Oneonta, a rural community between Binghamton and Albany, two students were filmed firing a gun at a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. while shouting racial slurs.
Even so, people who do not identify as white and who attended classes with Mr. Gendron at Susquehanna Valley High School pushed back against the notion that their community was prejudiced.
“No one else thinks like him around here. We are not a racist town, ”said Ms. McClain, 19, Mr. Casado’s girlfriend, who said she has known Mr. Gendron since the sixth grade.
After the shooting, she read most of the 180-page document Mr. Gendron posted online – but only in parts, she said, because she could not stomach it all at once.
“I never thought he could even think like that, let alone act upon it,” she said. “He’s a disgrace to his community, because we do not think like that.”