Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Residents comment on Gaza ceasefire resolution at City Council amid heightened police presence

Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern
Public commenters weighed in on whether City Council should pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on Monday. The meeting also saw increased police presence.

About 50 public commenters spoke at City Council’s Monday meeting about an Evanston resolution drafted by residents calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. About 30 commenters spoke in favor of a potential resolution and 20 against.

The Equity and Empowerment Commission withdrew a previously proposed ceasefire resolution at its Dec. 2 meeting after more than 100 residents commented on the proposal, many in opposition. Over 1,000 people also signed a letter opposing the resolution.

During public comment, several supporters of the ceasefire resolution read a new draft resolution, which they circulated ahead of the meeting. Both resolutions call for the return of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas, but the new resolution explicitly condemns Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. The Equity and Empowerment Commission’s original resolution did not. 

Attendees who advocated for a City Council ceasefire resolution at Monday’s meeting — including resident Lesley Williams — said it would allow the community to take a “principled stand” against alleged violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza. 

“As a human being, I’m compelled to beg for the ceasefire resolution,” said Anya Cordell, who is Jewish and mentioned she is a recipient of the Spirit of Anne Frank award. “There is probably no attic in Gaza now where an adolescent girl can safely shelter.”

Discussion on resolutions has come amid a continued Israeli bombardment, blockade and siege of the Gaza strip. The attacks have killed more than 20,000 Palestinians in Gaza after Hamas militants killed about 1,200 Israelis on Oct. 7, according to Israeli and Palestinian authorities.

Demonstrations calling for a ceasefire have occurred around the globe since October. Shortly before the new year, South Africa sued Israel at the International Court of Justice, alleging genocide and violations of humanitarian law. 

Some public commenters spoke against the resolution, saying they do not trust that Hamas will uphold a ceasefire. Others advocated for City Council to remain neutral on the issue. 

“We’ve seen a sharp rise in Islamophobia and antisemitism in Evanston, the U.S. and around the world,” public commenter and Evanston resident Lana Berkovich said. “The resolution is a politically charged document that will do nothing except inflame already existing levels of tension.”

There was also an expanded police presence at Monday’s meeting. One to two police officers are usually present at City Council meetings, Evanston Police Department Cmdr. Ryan Glew told The Daily. About 10 to 12 officers were stationed inside of the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center Monday, Glew said.

Glew said additional officers were stationed in response to a disruption at a previous City Council meeting. A Dec. 11 session was paused for 20 minutes after Mayor Daniel Biss asked for the council chambers to be cleared and pro-ceasefire demonstrators were escorted out. 

Some attendees, including ceasefire resolution supporter Amal Zayed, told The Daily that EPD officers delayed her from entering council chambers because of limited space.

“We knew the chambers were not full,” she said. “It’s our right as citizens to be able to fill the chamber.

Zayed alleged EPD Chief Schenita Stewart “grabbed” her in an attempt to prevent her from entering council chambers from a waiting area. Glew said he wasn’t sure if there was any physical contact. If there was, it was “probably casual and incidental, not controlling or in an arresting nature,” he said. 

No councilmembers or city officials publicly commented on any potential resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @william2tong

Related Stories: 

Residents call for ceasefire resolution, hold peaceful demonstration at City Council

Equity and Empowerment Commission withdraws resolution calling for ceasefire in Gaza

Protesters call for Schakowsky to support ceasefire, end U.S. aid to Israel

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