Clark Gas Station at 22nd Grant where Wallace Broadnax was slain

New law proposed for Gary gas stations needs a lot of work

Contributed By:The 411 News

Wallace Broadnax Amendment settles in for a long stay in city council committee hearings

It needs a lot of work, some council members said about the Wallace Broadnax Amendment; while others said the amendment shouldn't have the name of the slain Gary resident attached.

Wallace Broadnax's death at a gas station on June 26th spurred C.P.O. 2020-49, legislation sponsored by Mayor Jerome Prince and 2nd District Councilman Cozey Weatherspoon "to hold business owners accountable and responsible for the activities that go on around their establishments." The amendment is directed primarily at gas stations.

Tuesday night's meeting of the city council Public Safety Committee heard testimony from public officials and community members about the amendment requiring armed security guards at every gas station in the city from dusk to dawn. For gas stations that have a history— within the last 18 months – of a violent crime, armed guards will be required 24 hours.

Police Chief Bryan Evans said gas stations are a nuisance and a necessity. Evans counted 19 violent crimes including 9 homicides since 2020 at Gary gas stations.

They are a necessity for residents without their own transportation and live in neighborhoods that don't have grocery stores. For those residents, Evans said gas stations are the only place to buy essential items like milk and diapers.

Councilman Clorius Lay was the first to show opposition to the amendment's name. "I won't vote for it if Wallace Broadnax's name is on it," Lay said, "but I will work to get the amendment passed." Councilman Ron Brewer also asked for the removal of Broadnax's name.

Councilman William Godwin doesn't believe there is enough manpower of armed security guards to work in Gary's 53 gas stations. And using an estimate of $50 per hour salary, no gas station owner could afford it, Godwin said. He calculated the cost for a year would be $438,000 for a security guard around the clock.

The $50 hourly figure came from Jolly Security Guard Services owner, Travis Jolly, who joined the meeting via Zoom. Jolly said his firm could supply 20 security guards.

"Did you talk to the Gary Chamber of Commerce? Did you talk to the service station owners about this?" Godwin asked.

Councilman Lay said more input is needed for the legislation to work. He suggested the corporation counselor, city judge, city clerk, and the county sheriff be brought in on the Public Safety Committee hearings for this amendment

Anthony Broadnax, a family spokesman said he wouldn't oppose naming the amendment after his uncle.

Broadnax said, "Even though security guards, extra lighting and cameras cost money; these things should be considered as investments. The prime purpose is for the safety of the public. I doubt whether station owners are in it for the long run."

Public Safety Committee chairman Brewer asked, "Would the city's response have been different if all the gas stations were black owned like we once had. Or would we have called them in and had one-on-one conversations about how they could help, before we went to this drastic measure."

"What did we do in the interim, before Mr. Wallace became a tragedy? What was the call out to the community, monthly or in an annual report, to warn citizens that we had an uptick in these crimes and to be watchful?" Brewer asked.

Mayor Prince hoped for quick passage by the next city council meeting. Brewer said the Broadnax Amendment will be held in committee for further discussion.

Story Posted:07/16/2021

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