Tuesday night’s Richmond City Council meeting went past 1 a.m. Wednesday morning, as the council passed a resolution “affirming Richmond's support and solidarity” for Gaza and Palestine, with a highly charged public comment session that went for almost five hours.
Richmond Vice Mayor Gayle McLaughlin said at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting that Richmond “may be the first city in the nation to pass such a resolution” affirming support for the people of Gaza and Palestine, “but I strongly believe we will not be the last.”
It wasn’t easy. The Chronicle reports on a highly heated marathon meeting where Richmond City Council passed that resolution affirming support for the people of Gaza and Palestine, and KTVU reports the debate lasted “more than seven hours.”
Do you want to watch it? The whole meeting is embedded above. The discussion of the resolution begins three hours in, at the at 3:04:38 mark. But the discussion actually started long before that, as according to KTVU, the council went into closed session to make about a half-dozen amendments to the resolution, before emerging and starting public debate.
Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez started the public discussion with a moment of silence to honor the Israel-Gaza conflict’s victims. The proceedings did not remain silent for long.
Overwhelming boos and cheers broke out at the 3:09:15 mark, when Martinez called Israel an “apartheid state.” You could hear shouts of “Nazi!!!” directed at Martinez, and audience members sounding like they were about to come to blows. “I am calling a recess,” Martinez quickly declared.
The meeting would reconvene. “If my words pain you, I’m sorry, but they are words that have to be said,” Martinez told the audience. “Societies are too slow to recognize and condemn war crimes and apartheid against civilians, and people who oppose oppression are always villainized as divisive.”
The amendment did not take out the use of the word “apartheid,” and one could hear audible boos whenever a councilmember used the term. Several Jewish Richmond residents voiced their disapproval of a resolution they found extreme.
“I still find the resolution to be inflammatory and antisemitic,” one woman said, per the Chronicle. “I as a Jew, if this resolution passes, feel very unsafe in this community.”
But comments ran mostly in favor of the resolution. “Israel has been treating Palestinians with inhumane tactics,” the Chron says one commenter noted. “My own family has been wiped out in Gaza.”
The largely symbolic resolution did pass by a 5-1 vote. The only member in opposition was Councilmember Cesar Zepeda, who said, “While I support a free Palestine, my vote is no at this time.”
Per KTVU, the chief of police was on the ready to clear the room if things got further out of hand, with both police and fire personnel on hand.
Image: KCRT TV via Youtube