(KRON) — Following a heated debate and a marathon city council meeting Tuesday night, Richmond became the first city in America to pass a formal resolution in support of Gaza’s Palestinians.
The Richmond City Council voted around 1 a.m. Wednesday, 5-1, in favor of the resolution. More than 300 former and current residents spoke at the meeting while the city’s Zoom livestream reached capacity at 500.
The resolution was introduced by Mayor Eduardo Martinez and Vice Mayor Gayle McLaughlin. The mayor said he felt it was appropriate for his city to formally weigh in on foreign affairs. He cited the city’s long history of international engagement, including Richmond’s 1985 resolution condemning the apartheid in South Africa.
Titled “Richmond City Council Affirms Support and Solidarity with the Palestinian People,” the resolution passed Wednesday calls for:
● An immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the safe passage of substantial humanitarian
aid to Gaza.
● The immediate release of all Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.
● An end to “Israeli apartheid and the occupation and blockade of Palestinian land by
Israeli military forces.”
● The end to all existing and future military aid to Israel.
● The dignity and safety of residents in every community, regardless of what crimes its
leadership may commit, and that peaceful diplomacy is the only way to achieve safety and dignity.
The resolution also condemned the “collective punishment and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians by the state of Israel” and details the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The resolution
emphasizes peaceful diplomacy, combating antisemitism, and upholding human dignity.
Vice Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said the “mainstream media” did not adequately cover suffering of Palestinian people leading up to the war.
The city’s resolution states, ” The Gaza Strip, one of the most densely populated places on Earth, has been repeatedly referred to by human rights groups as ‘the world’s largest open-air prison’ even prior to this conflict.”
McLaughlin also criticized the media for its lack of coverage on Palestinians during the ongoing war and Israel’s “siege” of Palestine.
The resolution states, “Israel is now engaged in an ethnic cleansing campaign by explicitly requiring two million Palestinians to leave Gaza immediately or risk being bombed in their homes by the Israeli army.”
Councilmember Cesar Zepeda was the lone dissenting vote on the city council. The Jewish Community Relations Council Bay Area applauded Zepeda for being, “our sole Jewish ally,” and condemned the resolution as biased and inflammatory.
JCRC Bay Area CEO Tyler Gregory said, “Hamas had a great night in Richmond, with five hours of chaos and unrelenting repulsive speech against Israel and Jews. The council demonstrated profound ignorance and incompetence. Richmond could not bring itself to condemn mass murder against Jewish civilians and is not a safe place for Jews.”
JCRC Bay Area blasted the resolution for promoting “propaganda,” weaponizing “historical inaccuracy” and accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Gaza.”