“One idea I heard a lot when I was recruiting for office is that all these people are coming from New York City to Binghamton,” said Aviva Friedman, a Binghamton Democratic councilor who often clashed with the former mayor. “You know, coded term for ‘Oh, these poor colored people, black people.’ They are not talking about SUNY students.”
From time to time there have been incidents in the area and surrounding regions that have suggested ugly racial attitudes in some young people in particular.
In 2018, swastikas were found sprayed 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 predominantly white community dressed in racist costumes for “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 photo of Martin Luther King Jr. while shouting racist remarks.
Yet people who do not identify as white and who took classes with Mr. Gendron at Susquehanna Valley High School resisted the idea that their community was prejudiced.
“No one else here thinks like him. We’re not a racist city,” said Ms. McClain, 19, Mr. Casado’s girlfriend, who said she’s known Mr. Gendron since 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 couldn’t stand it all at once.
“I never thought he could even think like that, let alone act like it,” she said. “He’s a disgrace to his community because we don’t think that way.”