Lansing City Council approves Gaza ceasefire resolution before a packed audience

City joins six other communities in Michigan


TUESDAY, Feb. 13 — In front of a packed chamber, Lansing’s City Council voted 7-0 last night to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Lansing became the seventh city in Michigan to do so, following Ann Arbor, Detroit, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Hamtramck and Ypsilanti. East Lansing’s City Council rejected a similar resolution by a 4-1 vote on Jan. 10.

 “Resolution Calling for a Ceasefire to Preserve Life” was the second version of a draft originally provided to Council members by the activist group Lansing for Palestine on Jan. 8.

Scores attended the long-anticipated hearing and vote, exceeding the Council chamber’s capacity. Many had to sit in the lobby instead, where chairs were set up facing a TV showing a live meeting broadcast.

Forty-eight spoke during public comment, extending the meeting past three hours even after Council President Jeremy Garza shortened the time allotted for speakers from three to two minutes. All but four of those speakers used their time to discuss the resolution, with one person speaking out against it.

Anna Martínez-Hume, a Second Ward resident, urged the Council to disregard any outside influences on their vote.

“You are not their voice. You are my voice. You are the voice of Lansing, Michigan. For months, Lansing residents have been bravely telling you exactly who we are and what we believe. This much is true: We believe in one shared humanity and that our actions, however local, carry global implications for our shared morality. We are asking you to act on the convictions of social justice that reverberate through this community into you. We’re calling on you to be brave,” Martínez-Hume said.

Another speaker, Hannah Irwin, cited a Feb. 2 opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital.”

“This is an attempt to delegitimize the pro-Palestine movement by attacking one of the largest Arab and Muslim communities in America. This is in our state — that is our community that they are disparaging and opening up to violence,” Irwin said, citing that discourse as just one reason why the resolution was necessary.

Many audience members clapped or snapped their fingers after speakers who supported the resolution.

Amy Bigman, a rabbi at Congregation Shaarey Zedek in East Lansing since 2007, said the atmosphere made her feel unsafe.

“I had other remarks prepared for this evening, but I'm not going to give them despite the fact that several of you responded to my email and asked me to come tonight,” Bigman said. “I'm not going to give them because you have made sure that this is an unsafe place. The snapping, the standing and blocking people, all of the things that you see going on have made it unsafe for anyone to say anything other than ‘vote yes.’”

After hearing those comments and making their way through the rest of the agenda, At-large Council member Trini Lopez Pehlivanoglu, elected in November, introduced the resolution.

“Over the last several months, Council has heard a growing number of individuals asking for us to pass a ceasefire resolution in response to this ongoing humanitarian crisis,” she said.

“This resolution calls for the safe return of all innocent hostages and detainees. It acknowledges ongoing violence and the immense loss of life that continues. It recognizes that the City of Lansing is a globally connected and culturally diverse community and that members of our community are impacted by the loss of their family and friends. This resolution denounces Islamophobia and antisemitism, anti-Palestinian bigotry and anti-Israeli bigotry. It states that the City of Lansing stands on the side of human rights, peace and justice.”

Pehlivanoglu added that the resolution would be sent to the Biden administration and lawmakers representing Michigan at the federal level.

Council member Brian Jackson, who was absent at last night’s meeting because he was out of town, led the effort to bring a ceasefire resolution to the Council by shepherding it through the Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, which he chairs. He made some edits on the original three-page version, including removing references to state actors like Israel and Hamas, before bringing it before the committee in a special meeting Feb. 6.

Near the conclusion of that meeting, Jackson was joined by committee members Pehlivanoglu and Tamera Carter in a 3-0 vote to send the resolution to the full Council. However, The committee did not recommend whether the Council should pass it.

After the unanimous vote, cheers and applause could be heard throughout the Council chamber, down in the lobby and just outside of City Hall.

One resident who asked to be called only as Maggie attended the meeting but did not speak. She said she was there to support friends who had.

“I’m happy with the way that it went, especially that it happened unanimously. I think there’s a lot of other folks that were feeling the same way as the majority of the people in the room and others who weren’t able to attend in person tonight. I’m thankful that the Council people voted in accordance with their constituents,” she said.


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