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Outside Cleveland City Hall, pro-Palestine activists protest ceasefire remarks

Courtesy of J. Nungesser/Ideastream Public Media
Cleveland City Council members struggle to regain control as the council chambers flooded with pro-Palestine activists chanting, “Pass the resolution now!” during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin issued a statement on Feb. 5 threatening to halt public remarks on the ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Pointing to the demonstrations that have been going on at Cleveland City Hall for months, Griffin stated, “Such disruptions may constitute a misdemeanor and a violation of Section 605.04.” His words went unnoticed as the protests grew louder.

Many cities in Ohio have joined the fight against war and passed resolutions in favor of a ceasefire, including Dayton and Akron. The delayed stance from the Cleveland City Council angered many residents. Several local Jewish leaders mirrored this sentiment as they voiced their agreement. Rabbi Miriam Geronimus of Cleveland Jewish Collective said in the Cleveland Jewish News, “Resist the false narrative that says you must pick a side and that to call for a cease-fire is to care only about Palestinians … Pass the ceasefire resolution. Choose life.”

A new six-step policy for disrupting city council meetings was put into place by the council in January.

On Feb. 5, protesters in council chambers began to loudly chant, “Pass the resolution now!” This chant followed the meeting’s public comment section. Council President Griffin encouraged them to stop, using his gavel and microphone. The demonstrators filed out into a hallway and persisted in their protest outside the chamber doors before he could implement the new policy that permits the council to declare a recess, clear the chambers and restart the meeting. A few council members got up during council business to talk to the protesters and the police. After about 15 minutes, law enforcement had to close the chamber doors, but the chants still resonated through the large wooden doors.

Many demonstrators said that they felt they were doing nothing wrong.

“I think we’ve reached a point where we’re going to keep going until we get the ceasefire,” demonstrator Jenna Muhieddine of Lakewood said, sharing her point of view regarding the protests.

While the policy was in effect during the protests, it was not deployed. Griffin said that he tried to be patient because he respects the opinions and voices of the protestors, but he hopes that more orderly and respectful practices will arise. Griffin has previously said that even though council members have a great deal of sympathy for the people who have died in the conflict, a resolution is unlikely to be passed. Activists and residents alike were not pleased with Griffin’s response, and they plan to continue protesting to force Cleveland City Council to pass the resolution.

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