At the start of the meeting, Councilmember Travis Radina, D-Ward 3, called for a moment of silence for those affected by the Feb. 13 mass shooting at Michigan State University.
Radina, acting as mayor pro tempore in place of Mayor Christopher Taylor, then opened the meeting to public comments. Celeste Kanpurwala, Ann Arbor resident and MSU alum, spoke before the council about her support for a resolution the Council proposed on Tuesday that would call upon the Michigan legislature to draft and pass common sense gun reform policies to reduce gun violence in the state.
“I am here tonight to support common sense gun safety measures,” Kanpurwala said. “What we are asking for is gun safety bills that are supported by the majority of Americans. Things like secure gun storage, things like red flag laws and background checks on all gun sales.”
Radina said he was frustrated by the lack of action taken by state and federal lawmakers in response to prior mass shootings.
“This is not normal, this is not okay,” Radina said. “I am begging for this time to be different.”
Eight out of 10 Councilmembers sponsored the Common Sense Gun Safety Laws resolution.
Councilmember Ayesha Ghazi Edwin, D-Ward 3, proposed amending the resolution to note that communities disproportionately affected by gun violence need to be a part of the conversation on gun reform legislation.
“The communities most impacted by gun violence are disproportionately Black, Indigenous and Latino/Hispanic,” Ghazi Ewin said. “Yet (they are) often excluded from the policy-making process due in part to racist gun laws. I specifically think adding something (about) this to the resolution is important.”
Councilmember Cynthia Harrison, D-Ward 1, presented a similar amendment, adding that racial inequity is not limited to gun violence.
“Michigan Legislature (should) engage with BIPOC stakeholders along with BIPOC caucuses to address the racial inequities in housing, policing, education, transportation and the criminal legal system, which all contribute to gun violence,” Harrison said.
The amended resolution was approved unanimously by the Council.
The council then discussed a resolution to approve the closing of Monroe and Tappan Streets on April 1 for Hash Bash, an annual celebration in honor of marijuana legalization, which draws thousands of attendees. The Monroe Street Fair is a pro-cannabis networking event that has historically coincided with Hash Bash. The resolution emphasizes that the street closures would help improve safety for those participating in the Fair as well.
Aimee Metzer, interim chief of police at the Ann Arbor Police Department, spoke at the meeting and told the Council the resolution she believes that the resolution should not be passed. She cited public safety concerns about closing Ann Arbor streets on April 1 which is the date of Hash Bash, the Monroe Street Fair and the Michigan Wolverines’ spring football game. According to Metzer, closing the streets that day could create a gridlock that would make it difficult for the AAPD and the Ann Arbor Fire Department to reach those in need of emergency assistance if needed.
“When we get gridlocked downtown, it is nearly impossible to get in,” Metzer said.
Metzer said if the Council wants the streets closed down for the event, she would suggest considering an alternative location or date for Hash Bash and the Monroe Street Fair.
Scott Roberts, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, said he believes the streets need to be shut down during the Monroe Street Fair for the safety of all of the participants.
“I believe that not having the Street Fair (with the roads shut down) will cause more of a public safety concern,” Roberts said. “I’d rather have (intoxicated individuals) in the streets without cars than with cars.”
A decision about the street closures resolution was ultimately postponed. The proposal will be discussed again at the March 6 City Council meeting.
Daily Staff Reporter Emma Swanson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.