It's been a half century since Matthew Ryan was arrested outside the Binghamton Federal Building with dozens of other people demonstrating against the Vietnam War.

The future mayor of Binghamton Ryan was 20 years old when he and about 50 other people were charged with disorderly conduct on May 9, 1972.

In a front page story in The Evening Press that day, Tom Cawley reported the group tried to keep people from entering the downtown office building on Henry Street "to protest the blockade of North Vietnamese ports announced by President Nixon" the previous night.

Ryan and the others who were arrested were transported by "paddy wagon" to police headquarters on Water Street.

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program Tuesday, Ryan said his activism started in his senior year at Catholic Central High School. He said his older brother, Jerome, was a draft counselor who "had a big impact on me."

Ryan said he began paying attention to some of the Vietnam War opponents who spoke at what was then Harpur College (now Binghamton University). He said he continued to speak out against the war for years.

Ryan was elected to the first of two terms as Binghamton mayor on November 8, 2005 - more than 33 years after he was arrested outside the federal building two blocks from City Hall.

Ryan received national attention when he installed a "Cost of War Clock" outside City Hall in 2010. The purpose of the electronic sign was to keep track of the local tax money that had been used to support wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Matthew Ryan speaking with reporters at Binghamton City Hall on December 31, 2013, his last day as mayor. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Matthew Ryan speaking with reporters at Binghamton City Hall on December 31, 2013, his last day as mayor. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com. For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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