Home » Richmond City Council Passes Resolution to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Richmond City Council Passes Resolution to Support Palestinians in Gaza

by CC News

On Tuesday, the Richmond City Council voted 5-1 to approve a resolution affirming Richmond’s Support and Solidarity with the Palestinian People of Gaza.

The Richmond City Council cleared the agenda to focus on the resolution which featured 7-hours of discussion along with more than 200 public comments with public speakers showcasing flags for Israel, others representing Palestinians along with heckling throughout the night. Speakers from both sides spoke during the meeting both supporting and objecting to the resolution.

Prior to public comment, Mayor Eduardo Martinez offered up a nearly 10-minute monologue as to why they were bringing up the resolution, which included a call for recess as the crowd became lively.

The YouTube channel for the City of Richmond had over 300 viewers and the Zoom had more than 100. The meeting also required Richmond Police and Fire on scene for crowd control.

Councilmember Cesar Zepeda was the dissenting vote after his suggested amendments to the resolution were rejected as he hoped it would include bringing the community together and be a more actionable resolution.

“I would ask my colleagues to see that we work together with the Human Rights Commission while alongside our Palestinian and Jewish community leaders to bring back to the council a more together resolution because right now there is so much fear out there,” stated Zepeda.

Vice Mayor Gayle McLaughlin stated the resolution was in response the media blackout by the main stream media saying only the Israel voices were being heard, not the Palestinians.


Prior to public comment, the council announce amendments to the resolution which included:

  • Whereas, 1,400 Israelis have been killed by Hamas on October 7 and nearly 6,000 Palestinians have been killed by the state of Israel in this escalated conflict; and
  • Whereas, we mourn the loss of all civilian lives lost on both sides from October 7 to the present and also throughout the decades of displacement, occupation, oppression and blockade endured in Gaza and the West Bank;
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Richmond calls for the immediate release of all Israeli hostages taken by Hamas; and
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Richmond calls for an end to Israeli apartheid and the occupation and blockade of Palestinian land by Israeli military forces; and
  • BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Richmond opposes all existing and any future military aid to Israel; and

Council Discussion at 7 Hours & 200+ Public Comments Tuesday

After more than six hours of public comments with speakers both in support and against the Resolution, Eduardo Martinez said many voices spoke in anger and some with hatred but most with the seed of hope.

“I want to thank all of you who hold that hope for a better future for everyone. There has been a lot of positions. Some people say this Resolution is antisemitic, it is not. There has not been one single word that says we are against the Jewish people,” stated Martinez. “If it sounds one-sided, its because it voices a narrative that has been ignored. When people state the pro-Israel is one-sided, that is ignored. We need to bring these narratives together just as we need to bring our communities together.”

Martinez continued stating the commentary and narrative by the community shows people can come together.

“We know that we are for the community. We are for love and building together, not destroying,” stated Martinez. “That is why we want the ceasefire. That is why we want safe passage to humanitarian aid to Gaza.

He also spoke about all the money being sent to Israel.

“When I think of all the money that has gone into bombs and to bullets, into guns and into tanks. If we put all that together into a package of humanitarian aid, where would we be? We need to spend our money wisely,” said Martinez. “How does war figure into climate change? It doesn’t. This is more than a war, this is an economy. An economy that is based on building weapons and once we realize that this economy is killing the earth, we must change and start building an economy of growth of brotherhood, of togetherness and stop destroying things and start building them.”

Councilmember Soheila Bana stated she understood the concerns from the Jewish community and the fear of being targeted just because of your Jewish identity.

“I am a pacifist and strongly oppose violence on both sides and strongly condemn war crimes by both Hamas and the Israeli government,” stated Bana. “It is our understanding of each other’s pain and grief that brings us together around our common humanity.

She continued by stating she hope for a fear-free life for Jewish people around the world and a life free of occupation for all Palestinians. She added that there was no place for antisemitism or Islamophobia or any form of hate in the City of Richmond.


Richmond City Councilmember Melvin Willis

Councilmember Melvin Willis asked the community to all agree that killing and slaughtering of innocent community members, of children, is wrong and not justifiable.

“When I hear about all the children that have died in Gaza. The children who have been killed in Israel too, I am literally looking at kids around me saying damn that could be them if that was here,” stated Willis.

He called on condemning the people who are perpetuating the killing and the slaughter.

“I am appreciative that we did name that in the amendments because when I talk to folks in the community who have relatives in Palestine and trying to figure out how to get them out so they don’t die, if they haven’t already died, I can hear the pain and suffering in their voices as they are in this helpless situation in this community. And when I hear the stories of people telling me of their families who are in Israel who are wondering if they are still alive because of this conflict and wanting them to be alive or have lost people already, the citizens are the ones who are suffering the most and the ones who are leading the effort are not looking at each other as people,” explained Willis. “The citizens are the ones who are getting hurt… we should not blame the Palestinians for the actions of Hamas…. What Hamas did to those citizens of Israel is unconscionable and it needs to be condemned, but the people of Palestine, the Arab community, the Muslim community should not be blamed for a group who decided to not care about others humanity.”

He also called to separate out the actions of the Israel government—saying the Jewish community in America and Israelis should not be punished for the actions of the government and military.

“Lets just agree that the slaughter needs to end and the killing of children are unconscionable,” stated Willis. “The ends do not justify the means whatsoever if that is what you are doing.”

Willis urged those in leadership who are allowing this to happen to be held accountable for the decisions they are making. He urged people to stand on the side of peace and stand on the side of citizens who just have a right to life with food, shelter, medical supplies like everyone else.


Richmond City Councilmember Doria Robinson

Councilmember Doria Robinson thanked the more than 200 public speakers which she called the beauty of Richmond for holding a space to hear each other even when they don’t agree. She also acknowledged how some of the wording in the original Resolution could be triggering for the Jewish Community—admitting she wasn’t truly understanding it before meeting with members of the community.

She called the amendments important as they leaned into justice and not to forget any part of humanity.

“I’ve been to Gaza, When you see what is happening there, you cannot unsee it. It was like a shock to the system and I could not believe what was happening what I was seeing with my eyes, listening to the stories of the families I got to spend time with and I am grateful they took the time to help me understand first person what they were living through,” stated Robinson. “I don’t think people in the United States truly understand what is happening. I truly do not.”

She further said the dominate narrative is that we are only to care for Israelis and called that a serious problem.

“We will never get anywhere if the only people who are allowed to be human are Israelis,” stated Robinson who stated she hoped they find the right resolution tonight.

Councilmember Cesar Zepeda stated he wanted to bring everyone together in a community of peace and to uplift voices that seeks peace while calling out atrocities that Hamas has done to the Israel community and the atrocities the Israel government has done to the Palestine community.

“I’ve received about 800 emails and calls and not one was against standing up for Palestine,” said Zepeda. “We have to uphold the equal worth of all humans. Call for peace. Call for continued unity of our residents in Richmond. Many stated they were afraid for their wellbeing because of this resolution and I think my colleagues for listening and adding some amendments to the original wording.  To be clear here, I am not here to speak for the Jewish community and I am not here to speak for the Palestine community, rather, I hope to speak alongside the two communities.”

He stated the people of Richmond should not be afraid in their own community—especially during a time of prayer—and that the city council should not be the reason to cause this fear. He urged this resolution to be actionable and not just a piece of paper to be signed and filed away.

“Can we add a couple more Whereas and say we commit to bringing both communities together to heal and bring peace to our community,” stated Zepeda while working to help the people impacted by this.

Zepeda called the resolution and opportunity to bring voice and people together.

“I would ask my colleagues to see that we work together with the Human Rights Commission while alongside our Palestinian and Jewish community leaders to bring back to the council a more together resolution because right now there is so much fear out there,” stated Zepeda.

Richmond Gaza Resolution

Vice Mayor Gayle McLaughlin answered several of the speakers questions as to why they were bringing the resolution forward.

“The reason we are bringing it forward is two-fold,” stated McLaughlin. “One is to end the hostilities and to have an immediate ceasefire and also we need to end the 75-years of displacement, oppression and occupation of Palestine. We need peace but we can’t have peace without freedom, so these two things go together.”

Her other reason as to why she and the mayor brought it forward was a blackout by the main stream media.

“The voices of Palestinians are not being heard. Only the voices of Israelis are being heard. So we need to make our voice heard so that we can make it clearer that there are far larger casualties that Palestinians are experiences. Far larger than the horrific experience of the Israeli community that was also hit with attacks as a result of this overwhelming conflict that continues to this day,” explained McLaughlin who said Israel was continuing to bomb as she spoke. “We felt it was essential that we no longer put our heads in the sand, and it is essential that we not ignore this ongoing crisis in Gaza. So this resolution is a breakthrough of that main stream media blackout.”

She urged people to bring together to stand for the rights of Palestinians and the rights of all.

“But until the rights of Palestinians are addressed in this conflict, we will see more hostilities,” stated McLaughlin who said Richmond was not alone and there have been many demonstrations while they heard from many in the Jewish community who were in favor of the resolution.

“We may be the first city in the nation to pass such a resolution, but I strongly believe we will not be the last,” said McLaughlin.

Mayor Martinez called “perfect the enemy of good” and it would take forever to get the perfect resolution but they needed to start somewhere and start hear and now with what they have presented.

Zepeda asked about amendments. He asked to make the motion in which McLaughlin interjected stating she wanted to make the motion with the amendments as stated.

Zepeda offered an amendment to the motion to add to the title “we condemn the killings, kidnappings and torture of all innocent civilians in Israel and Gaza.” He also wanted to add that they condom Hamas for the killings on October 7.

McLaughlin stated as the maker of the motion that she wanted it to remain focused—which is in the resolution already. She called the purpose of the resolution was to bring out the voices of people of Palestine blacked out by the main stream media.

Zepeda’s amendment was not accepted.

The council then voted 5-1 with Zepeda voting no saying he supported the intent but wanted amendments to the resolution which included they would sit down with the community. He also said he supported a free Palestine but had to vote no.

Editors Note:

City of Richmond

Prior to the meeting, the City Council Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia who called for bringing people together, not further divide it. Walnut Creek City Councilmemebr Kevin Wilk also opposed the resolution– see full story.


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MODERATE October 25, 2023 - 11:32 am

This subject doesn’t belong on the agenda of any local city council. It is not a city issue in any way, shape or form. This is just local politicians and pressure groups wanting to be seen as “doing something” even though they are not.

Rob S October 26, 2023 - 2:43 am

I would add that on its own merit, it is utter B***S**T!!!

Any proclamation about the situation in the Middle East MUST, ABSOLUTELY MUST, include the consequences for both sides. As it stands, the Richmond’s proclamation is ONE SIDED as it does not include the fact that Israel has the right to exist. FULL STOP!

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