Feb 29, 2024 - News

Protestors demand St. Paul City Council consider Gaza ceasefire resolution

A city council chamber filled with protestors holding signs, some of which say "Ceasefire Now," with an empty dais and one woman in black clothing speaking to the crowd.

St. Paul City Council member Nelsie Yang addresses ceasefire advocates in the council's chambers. Photo: Kyle Stokes/Axios

A St. Paul City Council member says she will introduce a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, but it's not yet clear whether the body will hear it.

The big picture: At least 70 U.S. cities, including Minneapolis, have taken up ceasefire resolutions as outrage grows over the U.S.' role in the Israel-Hamas war.

Driving the news: Ceasefire advocates who packed the gallery at St. Paul City Hall on Wednesday were outraged when the council ended its meeting without taking up their cause.

  • As council president Mitra Jalali gaveled the meeting to a close, council member Nelsie Yang made a last-minute attempt to introduce a ceasefire resolution. Jalali declared the meeting adjourned.

Friction point: Jalali has said there's not enough support on the council to pass a Gaza resolution. As council president, she has the power to keep the item off the agenda.

  • Yang acknowledged to reporters her motion to introduce the resolution at Wednesday's would have failed even if she'd made it during the meeting.

What they're saying: Yang wants to force the council to take up the issue, saying activists are "protesting towards justice and liberation."

  • "Stop saying, 'Well, there's not enough votes and that's why I'm staying out of this,'" Yang said. "Well, where do you personally stand? … You know what I'm getting from my colleagues? Silence."

The other side: There's a process for introducing legislation before the council, and Jalali said no council member has started it.

  • "If any [council member] wants to bring a resolution, they work on language with their colleagues, work to gain their support, and then work with my office to introduce it," she told Axios via email.

The intrigue: Outside council chambers, Jalali has joined other leaders urging Democrats to vote "uncommitted" in the presidential primary — a campaign meant to send a message against President Biden's policy on the conflict.

The fine print: Yang shared the language she hopes to introduce, which she said was drafted by the Free Palestine Coalition.

  • In Minneapolis, wrangling over the exact verbiage was emotional.

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