Fight Back! News

News and Views from the People's Struggle

St. Paul City Council meeting disrupted by Palestine activists demanding passage of ceasefire resolution

By Meredith Aby

Pro-Palestine protesters pack Saint Paul city council meeting. | Fight Back! News/Brad Sigal

St. Paul, MN – On February 21, the Free Palestine Coalition organized their Saint Paul supporters to pack the Saint Paul city council meeting for the third week in a row to show support for their passage of a ceasefire resolution.

When Palestine solidarity activists tried to speak during the public comment section they were told that their comments were not on topic and that they had to stop talking.

When Council President Mitra Jalali cut off Sana Wazwaz and said that there would not be any consideration of a ceasefire resolution, the chamber erupted with chants like “Saint Paul council you can't hide, help us stop this genocide!”

Eventually Jalali called for a recess and the entire city council, except for Council Member Nelsie Yang, who stayed to hear speeches of support from the public for a ceasefire. Yang is the only council member who has agreed to introduce and vote for a ceasefire resolution.

Even though similar ceasefire resolutions have passed in city councils in Minneapolis, Hastings, and 70 cities across the United States, six of the seven Saint Paul council members are blocking even the proposal of such a resolution.

After stopping the meeting, the Free Palestine Coalition held a press conference in front of Saint Paul City Hall where residents spoke out in favor of a ceasefire resolution.

Kent Mori is a Ward 4 resident, a member of the Climate Justice Committee and a longtime Palestine supporter who spoke to the crowd after the meeting: “We’ve been told that the issue is too complex, complicated, too this, too that, for a ceasefire resolution in Saint Paul. Well, I’m here to say, it’s simple. Do you support the mass murder in Gaza that is being perpetrated by Genocide Joe, other Democratic Party officials like Amy Klobuchar and the Israeli regime? Or do you support the Palestinian people, the overwhelming majority of the people across the world, indeed, the majority of the American people in a just demand for a ceasefire?”

Deb Konechne, a Ward 1 resident and member of AFSCME Local 34, also spoke to the crowd, addressing the irony that they are trying to persuade Saint Paul’s first all-female city council to take action, “ I have heard that members of my city council say that this is not their issue, that they don’t deal with international issues, that this is not a local issue. Since when, as women, as mothers, as humanitarians did we stop caring about the plight of women and children anywhere in the world? When did we become so shallow, so limited that we can put on blinders to ignore the atrocities, the maiming, the murder of tens of thousands, the majority of whom are women and children?”

Other speakers included Saint Paul residents Brad Sigal with the MN Immigrant Rights Action Committee; Lana Barkawi with Mizna; Max Vast, president of AFSCME 3800; Ashraf Ashkar with MN Break the Bonds, and Dr. Sima Shakhsari, a University of Minnesota professor.

#StPaulMN #AntiWarMovement #International #MiddleEast #Palestine #MNAWC #MNFreePalestineCoalition #CityCouncil #Ceasefire