Chicago became the largest city in the U.S. to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza on Wednesday, putting yet more pressure on the Biden administration to stop its support of Israel’s genocidal assault that’s killed 27,000 Palestinians so far, with thousands more trapped under the rubble.
The resolution passed narrowly, with Mayor Brandon Johnson casting the tiebreaking vote in the city council. The session was heated, and at one point, Johnson cleared the chamber of protesters who were flooding city hall calling for a ceasefire.
The resolution calls for a “permanent” ceasefire and for humanitarian assistance to be sent into the region. It also calls for the immediate release of all hostages.
“Do I believe that the words that we speak today, how we vote today influences directly international policy? I don’t. I don’t have those illusions,” said Alderman Daniel La Spata, a sponsor of the resolution. “But we vote with hope. We vote with solidarity. We vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.”
According to Reuters, Chicago is now one of roughly 70 U.S. cities that have passed resolutions calling for a ceasefire, including Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Detroit, all of them Democratically-controlled. The resolutions — along with the mountain of polls finding that voters overwhelmingly support a ceasefire — put pressure on the Biden administration to reverse course on its unbending support of Israel amid its genocide in Gaza.
Activists celebrated the resolution’s passage, having fought for months for the city to back a ceasefire. A wide coalition of Palestinian rights groups, community groups, unions and city staffers had fought for the proposal, with months of protests across the city. A petition circulated among Jewish Chicagoans calling for the resolution to pass had gathered over 1,000 signatures, while prominent figures like Reverend Jesse Jackson joined protesters in the chamber on Wednesday and had fought for the resolution’s passage.
The fight for the resolution “embodies the people’s movement in Chicago,” Muhammad Sankari, lead organizer for the Arab American Action Network, said in a statement to Truthout. Sankari highlighted the multiracial coalition across the city that had called for ceasefire, including groups like Chicago Progressive Staffers, which is made up of a group of staffers within city hall, and Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.
“The passage of this Ceasefire Resolution in the Chicago City Council is historic not only because it makes Chicago the largest city in the U.S. to pass one, but also because it is now the first city in which the Mayor directly voted in support of it,” Sankari said.
Sankari said that Democrats should take note of Chicago’s support for a ceasefire with the upcoming Democratic National Convention for the 2024 election slated to take place there.
“The passage of this resolution is symbolic, yes, but it is an important symbolism, one that sends a strong message to D.C. not only that the people of Chicago demand an end to Israel’s brutal genocide against the Palestinian people, but that the Democratic Party’s leadership is woefully out of touch with its base in the lead up to the DNC in Chicago,” continued Sankari.
Chicago Progressive Staffers also highlighted the importance of the resolution ahead of the convention.
“We are so proud of Chicago for living up to its progressive values. The whole world is watching Chicago in anticipation of the Democratic National Convention this August,” said Chicago Progressive Staffers in a statement. “We are elated to add ourselves to the list of blue cities calling for a #CeasefireNow and are grateful for all 100 staffers, 165 Chicago based organizations, [Chicago Public School] students and Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez Sanchez and Alderman Daniel La Spata for helping championing this.”