Chicago, IL – Over 300 supporters of the movements for Black and Palestinian liberation showed up to the Wednesday, January 24, Chicago city council meeting.
Organizers spoke in favor of a resolution put forth by Rossana Rodríguez Sanchez and Daniel La Spata calling for a ceasefire in Palestine, and against a Fraternal Order of Police-backed decision to send even the most severe cases of police misconduct to arbitration where they could be handled with no public oversight.
“The same tools used to oppress Palestinians in Palestine are also used to oppress Black and brown people in the U.S.,” said Third Police District Councilor Anthony Bryant, explaining the connection between the two struggles at the press conference outside City Hall before the council meeting.
Neither vote was decided on Wednesday. The arbitration decision was pushed to next month’s meeting after being referred to the labor and workforce committee. The Palestine resolution will be heard next week in a special meeting. The date and time have yet to be announced.
The participation of the Palestinian community and their supporters in this meeting is a part of an ongoing international campaign to stop the genocide in Gaza. Protesters in Chicago, led by the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and the Coalition for Justice in Palestine (CJP), have shut down roads, highways, airports, stores and meetings of elected officials on a weekly basis since the beginning of Al Aqsa Flood and the U.S.-backed Israeli genocide.
These persistent actions have resulted in Brandon Johnson becoming the first mayor of a large major U.S. city to call for a ceasefire.
“It is disappointing that the city council has not yet voted for a ceasefire amidst the horrific war crimes against humanity committed by the settler colonial state of Israel against the Palestinian people,” Omar Al-Yemeni, a member of USPCN, said during the public comments section of the city council meeting. “Our Palestinian, Arab, Black and brown communities ask you to ignore those who publicly say that they want to delay and kill the resolution, and instead be on the right side of history.”
“There’s no vote on ceasefire today because of a very cynical, dishonest and frankly disgusting move by some members of the city council who continue to try to criminalize and stigmatize our liberation movement by claiming that it’s insensitive to vote for a ceasefire resolution on the same day as Holocaust remembrance day, ” Hatem Abudayyeh, National Chair of USPCN, said.
“On the contrary, it is an affront to all people of conscience in Chicago to postpone this discussion and vote when over 25,000 Palestinians, including over 10,000 children, have already been killed by Israeli bombs, missiles and occupation forces.” Abudayyeh continued.
A resolution to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Day passed with no opposition. However, members of the public objected to comments from Zionist council members conflating the Palestinian resistance fighters with Nazis. Zionist Alderwoman Debra Silverstein’s use of the phrase “never again” drew jeers from the audience who were there to oppose the Israeli genocide in Gaza.
“When we say ‘never again,’ we have to mean never again for everyone, everywhere in the world,” said Alderman Byron Sigcho Lopez, summing up the thoughts expressed by many in the crowd during his comments on the resolution.
“The Zionists tried to kill the ceasefire resolution in committee, then in the full city council, but they can’t stop the mass movement,” said Frank Chapman, executive director of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR). “Black and brown communities are united in standing firmly with Palestine against the genocide. As long as we continue to fight, we will win.”
“The killing has to stop, so yes we need a ceasefire,” Mayor Johnson said during a press conference after the meeting. “I wouldn’t be mayor of the city of Chicago if people weren’t pushing the government to recognize people’s humanity and what liberation means for people groups and nations. So in this instance people should be liberated. And I hope other people follow suit if the city council is in agreement with my particular position.”
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