Here are short YouTube videos of comments made by Jonathan Brody and Angela Plassmann at the December 29 community meeting regarding the recent fires. Mr. Brody is a resident of Williams Street. Ms. Plassmann will assume the office of Ward 3 City Councilor on Monday. These videos were recorded by Adam Cohen.
WBUR reported on Mr. Brody’s remarks and the reaction from the Mayor:
“These incidences of fires in Ward 3 have been an issue since I’ve been in the city,” said Jonathan Brody, who has lived on Williams Street in Ward 3 for about 5 years.
He told Mayor Clare Higgins he’s upset with city officials and it wasn’t until two people died that the city got proactive about suspicious fires that have plagued Northampton for years. He said it comes down to this: Ward 3 is on the other side of the tracks.
“I heard what you’re saying,” Higgins responded. “But I just want to say for a minute that our police officers and our fire fighters have been working on this issue for the number of years that you’ve talked about. They’ve been out on the streets and trying to solve this problem.
“I talked with the fire marshal yesterday. He said this is one of the hardest crimes to solve. That there have been communities where fires have gone on for 10 years and then the person stopped setting them and they never happened again and they were never solved. That’s what I really don’t want to happen in this community,” she went on.
“I don’t believe this is a question of ignoring Ward 3 because of class or any other reason and I’m sorry that that’s coming up as an issue, because I really don’t think it’s true,” she said to a round of supportive applause.
Here is a transcript of Ms. Plassmann’s speech (also available as a PDF):
Here are additional handouts from the meeting:
Northampton Media: “Northampton Gathers at the College Church in the Wake of Arson Fires” (12/31/09)
Free Fire Detector Distribution
Fire Department: “No Incident Is Too Small To Call”
Mayor’s Email Update: How To Help, Where To Give