On November 28, 1987, 15-year old African American Tawana Brawley was found in Wappingers Falls wrapped in garbage bags with feces smeared all over her body and a racial slur on her body. Brawley told police that she was held against her will for four days and repeatedly raped by a group of white men, one of which had a police badge. Her story did not check out, however. Nevertheless the whole event was highly politicized by people such as Al Sharpton and received national news coverage.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 3.1 km² (1.2 mi²). 3.0 km² (1.1 mi²) of it is land and 0.2 km² (0.1 mi²) of it is water. The total area is 4.96% water.
As of the census of 2000, there are 4,929 people, 1,980 households, and 1,191 families residing in the village. The population density is 1,669.4/km² (4,321.4/mi²). There are 2,119 housing units at an average density of 717.7/km² (1,857.8/mi²). The racial makeup of the village is 82.02% White, 5.98% African American, 0.26% Native American, 3.04% Asian, 0.00% Pacific Islander, 5.64% from other races, and 3.04% from two or more races. 15.05% of the population are Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There are 1,980 households out of which 31.8% have children under the age of 18 living with them, 40.5% are married couples living together, 14.8% have a female householder with no husband present, and 39.8% are non-families. 31.9% of all households are made up of individuals and 11.6% have someone living alone who is 65 years of age or older. The average household size is 2.45 and the average family size is 3.11.
In the village the population is spread out with 24.4% under the age of 18, 10.0% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 13.1% who are 65 years of age or older. The median age is 34 years. For every 100 females there are 92.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there are 89.3 males.
The median income for a household in the village is $39,123, and the median income for a family is $50,000. Males have a median income of $38,147 versus $26,607 for females. The per capita income for the village is $20,491. 12.3% of the population and 10.4% of families are below the poverty line. Out of the total people living in poverty, 15.1% are under the age of 18 and 14.3% are 65 or older.