In a contentious meeting in which Council President Ed Flynn had to keep banging his gavel, telling both councilors and residents to keep quiet, Councilor Frank Baker withdrew his demand for a look at the BPD file on sexual-assault allegations against Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, saying his point had been made by today's Globe interview with a woman who claims Arroyo sexually attacked and threatened her in high school.
But Baker (Dorchester) said he could be back, at any moment, so don't push him: "If a predator continues to roam, the killing field only becomes larger," he said.
Before withdrawing his motion, Baker said the allegations against Arroyo had cast "a dark shadow" over the council and said he didn't know about other councilors, but he was going to stand up for the survivors of sexual assault. "No matter the outcome my conscience is good with this decision," he said, adding he did so even though his family has been harassed in ways he did not specify.
Following that, Lara (Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Mission Hill) withdrew her demand for a subpoena of BPD files on Baker's 1990s conviction on marijuana-distribution charges.
She said she didn't think Baker was unfit to serve and said that criminal records have too often been used to go after officials even if they have changed their lives around - and that elected officials should not be judged on things that happened decades earlier, but rather on their work as after their elections.
She said her reason for filing her request had been proved by both Baker's action and by Flynn's decision to strip Arroyo of his council leadership positions, that "people of color on this city and on this council are not only held to higher standards, they are also disciplined in harsher ways by leadership."
Throughout the council's meeting, Flynn had to repeatedly wield his gavel and call brief recesses as temperatures in the concrete box the council meets in rose high. Fights broke out in the hallway outside the council chambers.
Earlier, in a discussion about trying to clean up Clifford Park in Roxbury - in Baker's district - so that children could once again play there without fear of getting stuck by needles or having to deal with mounds of human waste and broken dirt, Lara apologized to his constituents for the council only now trying to do something after "screaming into void for months if not years" due to inaction by Baker.
Baker angrily retorted that, in fact, it was his office that has spent years trying to clean up the park, and that the city sharps team, which collects needles across the city, started as work by his office. "Me, I handled it," he said. "Roll your eyes, I handled it."