Amid Protests, County Urges Repeal of SYG

After hearing from about three dozen people during a public hearing and public commentary – many of them supporters of Michigan’s Stand Your Ground law – the Washtenaw County commissioners passed a resolution asking state legislators to repeal the law.

The 5-to-4 vote took place at the county board’s Oct. 16, 2013 meeting over dissent from Kent Martinez-Kratz (D-District 1), Dan Smith (R-District 2), Alicia Ping (R-District 3), and Rolland Sizemore Jr. (D-District 5). In support of the resolution were Felicia Brabec (D-District 4), Ronnie Peterson (D-District 6), Andy LaBarre (D-District 7), Yousef Rabhi (D-District 8) and Conan Smith (D-District 9). [.pdf of resolution]

This is the fourth meeting that has included public commentary on the Stand Your Ground law – Public Act 309, the Michigan Self Defense Act, which was passed in 2006. In early September, board chair Yousef Rabhi had announced his intent to bring forward a resolution urging the state legislature to repeal the law, similar to a resolution passed by the Ann Arbor city council on Aug. 8, 2013. The resolution had originally appeared on the county board’s Sept. 18 agenda, but was pulled from the agenda before the meeting when it became uncertain that it would win sufficient support to pass, given the anticipated absence of some commissioners.

Supporters of the law spoke at the Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 board meetings, and showed up again on Oct. 16. Several of the speakers wore sidearms to the meeting. Some were affiliated with Michigan Open Carry Inc., an advocacy group based in Lansing that has been urging people to attend the Washtenaw County board meetings to protest the proposed resolution. The resolution also attracted the attention of the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action issued an alert on Oct. 11 calling the resolution “misguided” and providing contact information for the nine county commissioners.

This brief was filed from the boardroom of the county administration building at 220 N. Main St. in Ann Arbor, where the board of commissioners holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]