Youngstown council endorses opposition to 'Stand Your Ground'

Published: Thu, September 19, 2013 @ 12:09 a.m.


By David Skolnick


City council voted to support a resolution that opposes a proposed Stand Your Ground law in Ohio and a congressional bill for national reciprocity for concealed-carry handgun permits.

The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative, a local community group that advocates for issues related to racial, social and economic justice, had urged council to support the resolution.

Council unanimously voted 7-0 Wednesday in support.

“Current state laws give homeowners more than enough protection,” said Councilman Nate Pinkard, D-3rd, chairman of council’s safety committee and a retired Mill Creek Metro-Parks police chief.

Youngstown is the latest in the state to pass similar resolutions against this resolution joining Cincinnati, Toledo, Dayton and South Euclid.

MVOC organizer Allan Irizarry-Graves said after the vote the proposed state bill to expand Stand Your Ground targets “young minority males” such as him.

“If I’m walking around my neighborhood on the North Side and someone sees me and feels threatened, they can shoot as they please,” said Irizarry-Graves, who is black.

The issue comes after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in July of second-degree murder and manslaughter during a high-profile case in Florida that raised questions about that state’s Stand Your Ground law.

The law permits people to use deadly force when they believe there is a perceived threat.

Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old black male, on Feb. 26, 2012, contending he felt threatened. His defense didn’t use the law in winning his acquittal, however.

The Ohio Legislature is considering a bill to expand situations that would permit people to use deadly force.

“There’s enough gun violence every day,” and there’s no need to expand the law, Pinkard said.

In other matters, council failed to approve legislation by emergency measure to authorize the administration to seek proposals from firms to redistrict the city’s seven wards.

The vote was 5-2 in favor of the proposal. But for legislation to be approved by an emergency vote, at least six members of council must support it.

The two no votes came from Councilmen Mike Ray, D-4th, and Paul Drennen, D-5th, who said they were satisfied with the redistricting maps provided by Youngstown State University’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies.

Council will need to take three votes at three separate meetings to approve the legislation.

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