City Councilors unanimously approved a resolution urging the legislature to reject a senate bill modeled after Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law at their weekly meeting on Wednesday.
Stand Your Ground
City Councilors Tito Jackson, who represents Egleston Square, and Felix G. Arroyo, an at-large councilor who lives in JP, introduced the resolution calling upon Beacon Hill to reject senate bill S.00661, titled “An Act Relative to the Common Defense,” otherwise known as “Stand Your Ground.”
The resolution was passed with no dissent.
“This proposal is dangerous, and allows for vigilantism in the name of public defense,” said Jackson about the senate bill, which would expand the allowable use of deadly force in self-defense considerably. “It allows for deadly force any place you are allowed to be ... for the perception of a threat. We don’t want Boston to be a place where untrained civilians are encouraged to use deadly force against each other.”
Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law has been the focus of considerable recent attention, in the wake of the tragic shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla.
Jackson also spoke about the stereotypes that doubtlessly played a role in the killing.
“The next generation of innovators, leaders and thinkers do not wear what we wear here in the City Council chambers,” he said. “Genius in the making looks different in the 21st century ... We don’t believe in people by fearing them.”
Jackson stated his belief that the Commonwealth already has sufficient laws on the books to allow citizens to defend their homes, property and loved ones—specifically, the Castle Doctrine, which allows deadly force in defense of one’s home. Massachusetts case law has also upheld the use of deadly force outside the home where a person is under attack or in immediate danger, provided they have done “everything reasonable” under the circumstances, to avoid the physical confrontation.
The “Stand Your Ground” bill does not require an individual to take all reasonable measures to avoid the confrontation.
“Bill [S.00661] is modeled on Florida’s law,” pointed out Arroyo, who continued to note that, since Florida adopted the measure, justifiable homicides have risen by 200 percent. “That’s not a statistic I want coming to Massachusetts.”
City Councilor Charles Yancey also spoke in favor of the resolution, urging his colleagues to throw their support behind it.
In a late addition to the consent agenda, Yancey introduced a measure to create April 4 as Martin Luther King, Jr. day in the City of Boston, in remembrance of his tragic assassination in Memphis, Tenn., 43 years ago from Wednesday.
“It is important not just to remember his birthday, but also the day he gave his life,” said Yancey, who recalled coming home to his native Roxbury at the height of rioting and unrest in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination. “Just as we will never forget Sept. 11, 2001, we should never forget April 4, 1968.”
The council adopted the consent agenda in its entirety, including Yancey’s resolution.
City Councilors Matt O’Malley and Jackson introduced a new proposed district map that they said is fair, equitable and “does our best to keep neighborhoods intact.”
Redistricting is required by law every 10 years.
“I think this map is the right way to go,” said O’Malley. “It reflects the changes and demographic shifts we’ve made.
Yancey, however, disagreed, citing the 1982 splitting of Mattapan and the lack of redress the neighborhood has received since.
“I’m disappointed with both maps submitted today,” he said. “It seems to me the interests of the people of Mattapan are being dismissed.”
Yancey said he looks forward to further discussions on the matter, and the council referred the matter to committee.
- City Councilors Sal LaMattina and Mark Ciommo requested a hearing with regards to the plans of Global Partners to transport Ethanol along existing commuter rail tracks. “We’re concerned,” said LaMattina. “In past news stories, [when there is an issue], we see hundreds evacuated. In Boston and Revere, now your talking about thousands of people. LaMattina continued to state that he feels Global Partners’ plan is a “recipe for disaster” and would present a potentially appealing target to terrorists. He requested a hearing with fire and emergency personnel to go over possible disaster plans.
- Yancey requested a hearing with regards to the rules and procedures governing the discharging of firearms at moving vehicles. The request comes as a result of last week’s incident involving a state trooper being hit by the car of a fleeing suspect, and the subsequent manhunt that ensued.
- City Councilor Mike Ross discussed issues with the Green Line “E” branch between Brigham Circle and Heath Street, involving the lack of a median and the tendency of motorists to ignore the small “stop” signs attached to trolley doors. He requested a hearing regarding possible legislation to remedy this. The matter was referred to committee.
- The meeting began with City Council President Stephen Murphy recognizing Wakefield resident Paul Antonino for his heroic actions at the scene of this weekend’s savage seven-alarm blaze in East Boston that left dozens displaced. Antonino helped rescue several senior citizens from the conflagration, running inside the burning building and pulling them to safety. Mayor Tom Menino declared Wednesday “Paul Antonino Day” in the City of Boston.