Chicago, IL – The Palestinian community and their movement allies won an historic vote January 31. With 500 protesters crowded into City Hall, the Chicago city council passed a ceasefire resolution, becoming the largest city in the country to have done so.
The vote was extremely close: 24 to 23. In fact, the vote among council members ended in a tie – 23 to 23. Mayor Brandon Johnson broke the tie. He forecast his courageous action after last week’s city council meeting when he said to the press, referring to the genocide in Gaza, “The killing has to stop. So, yes, we need a ceasefire,” Johnson said.
The resolution is also much stronger than many passed in other cities. It was presented as an Expression of Support for United Nations Resolution 377 known as “Uniting for Peace.” Adopted overwhelmingly by the UN General Assembly, it calls for an immediate ceasefire. It reports the toll of Palestinians by the Israeli military: the number killed, including that it’s a majority women and children; as well as the tens of thousands wounded. It describes the destruction of hospitals, schools, places of worship, and homes in Gaza. It also recounts the level of political support for the ceasefire demand across the U.S.
On the other hand, the Zionists and their allies in the city council pointed out several times that this resolution would go against the policy of President Biden in his total support for Israel’s war.
Protest works, and elections make a difference
Hundreds of Palestinians and their supporters have been showing up in City Hall for the past three months. First, they came out to oppose a Zionist resolution that regurgitated the Israeli lies against the Palestinian resistance. Then ceasefire resolutions started to be presented in November.
Frank Chapman, field organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, speaking in the hallway before the vote today, said, “We’ve come down to support this ceasefire resolution, put forward by Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez. We believe we’re going to win this resolution. We’re proud of the fact that the mayor of our city has come out in favor of a ceasefire.
“But more than that, according to the recent decision by the International Court of Justice, our government is engaged in a criminal enterprise with Israel. In other words, Netanyahu and Joe Biden are war criminals. In fact, we should change Joe Biden’s name to Genocide Joe Butcher Biden.
“It’s very important that Chicago, with the largest Palestinian population in the U.S., come out decisively for stopping genocide!” Chapman concluded.
The resolution was put forward by Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez-Sanchez and Alderman Daniel La Spata to call for an end to Israel’s military onslaught against the Palestinian people in Gaza.
When the crowd of Palestinian youth waiting on the first floor of City Hall heard the news of the victory, and that it had been a tie broken by the mayor, they erupted into the chant, “We will free Palestine! In our lifetime!”
The U.S. Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) and the Coalition for Justice in Palestine held a rally after the city council victory across the street in Daley Plaza, featuring the sponsors of the resolution.
Hatem Abudayyeh, USPCN national chair, expressed thanks, naming “Rodriguez-Sanchez, La Spata, and a number of other champions of the resolution and of our community, including Alders Byron Sigcho-Lopez, Jessie Fuentes, Carlos Ramirez-Rosa, Jeanette Taylor, and of course, Mayor Brandon Johnson.”
Abudayyeh added, “We would not have been able to win this battle without each and every one of them, and now we move onward to use this victory as inspiration to continue demanding that Genocide Joe Biden stop supporting the genocide against our people.”
All of these elected officials have come into office since 2015, as a result of the united front of labor and Black and Latino community movement forces that began to emerge in Chicago in 2010. The election of Brandon Johnson, a veteran of the Chicago Teachers Union, is the most recent and highest office reached by this movement. Now the movement has stepped on to new territory with this resolution against a key feature of U.S. imperialist strategy.
This also portends a major struggle as the Democratic National Convention will be held in Chicago August 19-22. Protests are already being planned by a coalition that includes CAARPR, USPCN, and other organizations.