EILEEN T. MESLAR / CHICAGO TRIBUNE/TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE VIA GETTY IMAGES
In a historic move, the Chicago City Council has passed a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, with Mayor Brandon Johnson casting the tiebreaking vote in a 23-23 deadlock. This decision makes Chicago the largest American city to advocate for a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, marking a significant development in the city’s stance on the ongoing conflict.
The resolution, which had been a subject of debate and disruptions, saw Mayor Brandon Johnson once again clearing the Council chambers after disruptions from a crowd mostly composed of pro-cease-fire spectators. The final vote came after a monthslong battle over the symbolic declaration.
Despite successful attempts to delay the vote last week, opponents of the resolution couldn’t overcome the cease-fire push after Mayor Johnson publicly supported it. The passage of the resolution is considered a crucial win for Mayor Johnson and City Council progressives.
Sponsor Ald. Daniel La Spata, 1st, expressed a pragmatic view on the resolution, stating, “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. But we vote with hope, we vote with solidarity, we vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.”
The final push for the resolution included an endorsement from powerful unions like the Chicago Teachers Union, a widespread school walkout, and support from the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The resolution gained momentum with a widespread school walkout that included cease-fire calls from hundreds of high school students.
Spectators filled the Council chamber’s upper and lower viewing levels early Wednesday, many wearing Palestinian kaffiyehs to signal their cease-fire support. The Council voted to consider a revised version of the resolution penned by Ald. Daniel La Spata. The resolution calls for a permanent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, humanitarian aid, and the release of all hostages as the war in Gaza continues into its fourth month. It also includes support for a U.N. cease-fire resolution opposed by the federal government.
The resolution’s sponsors agreed to delay a scheduled vote last week after Ald. Debra Silverstein, the council’s lone Jewish member, led a majority to request postponement due to a conflicting vote on an International Holocaust Remembrance Day resolution. Despite concerns raised by Silverstein and others, the latest wording of the legislation had only minor language tweaks.
During the meeting, disruptions occurred, with one pro-cease-fire spectator shouting, “Wadee was killed because of your lies,” referencing the death of 6-year-old Wadee Alfayoumi, who was fatally stabbed in October in what authorities described as an anti-Palestinian hate crime.
Amid disruptions, Mayor Johnson called for a recess, instructing the sergeant to clear the room. After an hourlong delay, the Council’s meeting resumed, with spectators filling only the chamber’s upper viewing area.
Supportive aldermen emphasized the urgency of the cease-fire resolution, noting the Palestinian death toll, particularly among women and children. The resolution’s passage, however, was not without opposition. Ald. Samantha Nugent shared a letter signed by 23 aldermen arguing that countering U.S. policy “sends a dangerous precedent” and undermines President Joe Biden’s influence.
As aldermen voted, Ald. Walter Burnett, 27th, Pat Dowell, Stephanie Coleman, and Emma Mitts were not present. Spectators on the third floor erupted in cheers when Mayor Brandon Johnson cast the deciding vote. The Chicago City Council’s decision reflects the city’s commitment to international diplomacy and its stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict.