Tuesday, December 21, 2010

City Council Waters Down Henry Family Resolution

By Lisa E. Crowley
The BrocktonPost
BROCKTON—The Brockton City Council Finance Committee has voted to support an amended resolution that expresses sympathy for the family of Danroy “DJ” Henry, but does not request the investigation of the Easton man’s death by the U.S. Department of Justice.
“I would call it watered down,” said Councilor-at-large Jass Stewart following Monday night’s finance committee meeting.
Stewart sparked controversy last week when he submitted a stronger resolution to the City Council that would have asked the Department of Justice to take action, to do something in the face of questions over Henry's shooting--a far cry from the amendment to his resolution voted by the council last night.
“This doesn’t do anything, it doesn’t ask for any action. It doesn't take any action,” Stewart said.
Last night members of the council debated supporting Stewart’s original resolution and opted to approve an amendment from Councilor-at-large Thomas Brophy that completely changed Stewart’s resolution.
Brophy’s resolution states the City Council extends its sympathy for the Henry family and hopes for the swift resolution of the investigation into Danroy Henry’s death.
Stewart’s resolution while expressing similar sympathy for the family, specifically requests the U.S. Department of Justice conduct an independent investigation into Henry’s shooting death by a police officer in Mt. Pleasant N.Y., where Henry attended college and played football for Pace University.
The vote in favor of Brophy’s amendment was 5-4.
Councilor Robert Sullivan was absent and Councilor Todd Petti, after saying Stewart’s original resolution was like a reprimand of the Mt. Pleasant Police Department and asked Stewart if he had contacted the Mt. Pleasant Police Chief to talk about the shooting, Petti walked out of the room to be officially counted as not present.
Stewart said he didn't not contact the Mt. Pleasant Police Chief because the matter is under investigation and the chief is likely not to respond.
Petti said Stewart’s resolution should be something residents and government officials in New York should be doing and not those in Brockton.
Selectmen in Easton have voted to support the resolution, however Brockton councilors said the resolution is likely not to move the Department of Justice, which has already turned away an attempt by the Henry family to hand-deliver a letter to the agency asking for an independent investigation.
Ward 6 Councilor Michelle DuBois said she was in favor of Stewart’s original resolution and disagreed with other councilors that it was a political move to support it. She said the resolution's meaning was being blown out of proportion and it is part of government's job to support resolutions and petitions for one thing or another. DuBois voted against Brophy's amendment because she said she wanted to vote in favor of Stewart's.
Petti said he wanted to abstain from the vote, but parliamentary rules do not allow a councilor to vote absent. Instead, a councilor wishing to pass on a vote must walk out of the room to appear as not present.
Some of the nearly 10 family and friends of Henry who live in Brockton and attended last night’s meeting were displeased with Petti’s move to walk out of the room rather than vote the issue up or down.
“I can understand voting yes or no, I can live with that, but to just get up walk out of the room—what is that,” said Kevin Murphy, a longtime Ash Street resident who spoke in favor of Stewart’s resolution and said having watched Danroy Henry grow up knows in his heart Henry could not be the same person police in New York have described on the night of Oct. 17 when a police officer shot Henry fearing for his life when Henry allegedly drove his car in an attempt to run over the officer following a bar room raid.
Peg Dozier, who has lived in Brockton for decades and is Henry’s grandmother, said after the meeting she was very unhappy with the vote and completely disagrees with some of the councilor’s arguments that it places them in a position of picking sides between the police and her grandson.
Dozier said the family is seeking the truth about Henry's death and because of the numerous discrepancies between witness and police statements wants to ensure the investigation is above-board since it is the Mt. Pleasant Police Department that is collecting evidence and investigating one of their own.
Dozier said she also believes the police in Mt. Pleasant went too far that night.
"He executed my grandson," Dozier said. "That's what it was--an execution," Dozier said.
Last week the Henry family's lawyer, Michael Sussman called Henry's shooting murder by the Mt. Pleasant Police.
She said it isn’t surprising that an 11-member Brockton City Council made up of only one white woman and one black man and filled with mostly white men would not support even a symbolic resolution to seek the truth about police actions, even if it is in New York.
“It was something simple, symbolic. I’ve lived here all my life and I’ve been involved and when I need one little thing…nothing,” she said. “This place is so old school,” Dozier said.
Stewart said he was disappointed by the vote, but not surprised because he had talked with many of his fellow councilors since submitting the resolution last week.

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