Heated rhetoric prompts extra security measures at Ward 6 community forum
Reporter: Marcelino Benito
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) -Councilman Steve Kozachik organized a community forum set for Monday, but in the last few days, the councilman has been on the receiving end of some pretty nasty attacks, even threats. Despite the threats, the show will go on.
The non-partisan community forum will be the main event at The Loft Monday night.
"It's an opportunity for people to engage elected officials," Kozachik said.
But that opportunity has since clouded over with controversy.
"I understand that a lot of people feel like they're not the pretty girl at the prom anymore and they're not getting all the attention they deserve, but this isn't the venue to get it," Kozachik said. "We're talking about serious issues."
The debate is all about guns and Kozachik's gun buy back program set for Tuesday. Since the announcement, the rhetoric against the councilman has been building.
"It is unfortunate you can't bring up firearms on the heels of the Connecticut without people going out of their heads," Kozachik said.
Nasty comments and even threats about Monday's meeting have popped up on-line. One man even called Kozachik, Hitler.
So 9OYS went to Charles Heller, with the Arizona Citizens Defense League to see what he thought about those comments.
"If a person is elected to office and they can't handle it, if that's a problem for them that someone speaks harshly to them, then they should consider counseling for their problem," Heller said.
9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito pushed for an answer, "So do you agree with that statement?" Heller replied, "I'm not here to comment on the appropriateness of the comment. Benito asked once more, "So do you think it's appropriate for someone to call a councilman Hitler because he's organizing a gun buyback?" Heller answered, "Generally no, but I don't disagree with their right to say it."
Heller tells us the problem isn't Monday's meeting, but what the city of Tucson wants to do about guns. He expects 50 to 100 of his members to show up to listen, not to protest.
"The idea that we would think of doing anything like that is abhorrent," Heller said. "We're polite people."
But should things get out of hand with anyone, Kozachik says extra security measures will be in place.
"We're going to go forward with it and it's going to be a good event," Kozachik said. "If people want to act out and make idiots out of themselves, they can do it outside."
Extra security measures include bag checks at the door, no guns will be allowed on property and once you get inside, there will be no live mic, questions will have to be submitted in advance. If you'd like to attend, it's Monday, January 7th at the Loft from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.