Detroit City Council passes ceasefire resolution
Cameron Harrison/PW

DETROIT – In a strongly worded resolution, the City Council here called for an “immediate, durable, and sustained ceasefire” to “protect and save human lives.” The action on Tuesday followed weeks of organizing, attending council meetings, phone-calling, and letter-writing by peace activists to pressure elected city council representatives.

The resolution states that the Council “condemns all acts of violence aimed at Israeli and Palestinian civilians and mourns the loss of all civilian lives and hostages” and that the Council recognizes that “a lasting resolution can only be achieved by peaceful means and diplomacy.” It goes on to call for the release of hostages and unconditional passage of critical humanitarian aid to Gaza.

The resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Gabriela Santiago-Romero weeks ago, passed 7-2. Council President Pro Tem James Tate along with Councilman Coleman Young II voted against the resolution. Tate argued that the term ceasefire was “divisive.”

Detroit’s ceasefire resolution comes on the heels of similar resolutions passed in Dearborn and Hamtramck. Those Michigan cities, along with Ypsilanti, are home to the largest Arab American population in the state. Detroit is the largest in a growing list of U.S. cities that have called for a ceasefire via city council resolution. Other cities which have passed ceasefire resolutions include Atlanta; Providence, Rhode Island; Akron, Ohio; Richmond, California; and Wilmington, Delaware.

Councilwoman Santiago-Romero explained that she is “focused on a solution,” and that is “the immediate cease-fire and release of all hostages, and allowing for the unrestricted flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza.” The resolution, she said, is “calling that all parties work toward peace.”

Councilwoman Mary Waters also spoke in favor of the ceasefire resolution. “We must work for a ceasefire, must appeal directly to President Biden to stop the slaughters in Gaza using our taxpayer dollars, killing our babies,” she said, adding, “Half-stepping is on the wrong side of history. It’s not an option for those who respect the history and majority of Detroit.”

Public comments at the Council meeting were overwhelmingly in favor of the ceasefire resolution. Frank Hammer, a veteran United Auto Workers labor leader, expressed concern that President Biden has “doubled down on his administration’s support for Israel’s actions, causing Arab American voters who had voted for Biden to feel betrayed. “If we don’t do this now, I can assure you, the voters will next November,” the retired auto worker told the Council.

Earlier this month a group of Muslim and Palestinian Christian leaders staged a demonstration here pledging to “abandon Biden” in 2024 because of his failure to support a ceasefire.

Recent polls show that a super-majority of Democratic voters nationwide, and a majority of voters in general, support a ceasefire. Michigan is a battleground state for the 2024 elections: 71%of Democratic voters support a ceasefire with 53% saying that they hold that position strongly.

The city of Detroit is also home to Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian-American in Congress. Rep. Tlaib was recently censured by the House of Representatives for her comments in favor of peace and in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

“Mr. President, the American people are not with you on this one,” Tlaib said in a video. “We will remember in 2024.”

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Cameron Harrison
Cameron Harrison

Cameron Harrison is a Labor Education Coordinator for the People Before Profits Education Fund. Based in Detroit, he was a grocery worker and a proud member of UFCW Local 876, where he was a shop steward. He writes about the labor and people’s movements and is a die-hard Detroit Lions fan.