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Community unites, calls for ceasefire in Gaza at city council meeting

A+member+of+the+Fort+Collins+community+speaks+about+a+ceasefire+resolution+at+a+Fort+Collins+City+Council+meeting+Feb.+6.
Collegian | Avery Coates
A member of the Fort Collins community speaks about a ceasefire resolution at a Fort Collins City Council meeting Feb. 6.

With an unprecedented turnout of around 100 people, the Fort Collins City Council meeting Feb. 6 had an outpouring of community support surrounding a possible city resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip has been under attack since Hamas militants stormed into Israel, taking hostages Oct. 7, 2023. United Nations humanitarians reported Jan. 23 that more than 25,000 civilians have died in Gaza since the war began.

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Residents came to comment about the Israel-Hamas war, sharing personal anecdotes, calling upon local and federal government to take action and silently showing support. Clapping is not allowed in the chamber, according to the rules of procedure for Fort Collins City Council meetings. 

Fort Collins Mennonite Fellowship Pastor Steve Ramer was one of the over 60 people who signed up to speak.

“I encourage you to vote ‘yes’ on the resolution for a ceasefire,” Ramer said. “I am part of a religious tradition that is nearly 500 years old and has preached the futility of violence. To us, any form of violence is a sin. This is a moral issue. And so I am here to speak on the morality of the violence going on in Gaza.”

Ramer explained he had originally signed up to speak about the Mennonite Fellowship and homelessness outreach; instead, he used his time to support the ceasefire resolution. Several other individuals who spoke did the same thing.

Many residents echoed that this is a local Fort Collins issue, with many speaking about how Woodward, a local company, has allegedly supplied Israel with weapons used against Palestine

Furthermore, some said it would be hypocritical for the council to not vote on this, as the council convened on various national and international issues in the past, such as support of a ceasefire in Ukraine, abortion rights, the Patriot Act, ending apartheid in South Africa and Medicare for All

“There’s nothing legally stopping us from taking such a stand, and I personally hope that we do. I have no fear, nor am I reluctant to consider and pass a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and I will proudly vote ‘yes’ for such a resolution.” –Kelly Ohlson, Fort Collins city council member

Some residents spoke on behalf of those who couldn’t attend, such as Mika Lin, who is both an American and a Palestinian citizen. Lin spoke for a former resident of Fort Collins who currently in the West Bank. She read a letter, prepared for the meeting, that aimed to explain what life is like in the West Bank.

“We live in an apartheid state,” Lin read. “We have separate identification papers that tell us where we are allowed to go. We cannot visit our holy sites in Jerusalem without special permission. Our cars have different colored license plates that show what roads we can drive on.”

The letter also discussed the current quality of life and accessibility of resources for Palestinians in the West Bank.

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“Israel controls all of the goods that come in and out of the area,” Lin read. “Water, electricity, medicine and all other basic necessities.”

The session continued with Hannah Spring, who spoke about rising reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia worldwide as well as the ceasefire resolution. 

“What are you doing to prioritize (Jewish and Muslim) safety?” Spring said. “Ask yourself that. Turn inward. Think about it, please. And I’d also like to ask you: What if at the end of this life, the final question is, ‘Did you turn toward the suffering of the world, or did you turn away from it?'”

Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt and other city council members offered their thoughts after the nearly two-hourlong public comment concluded. 

“There’s nothing legally stopping us from taking such a stand, and I personally hope that we do,” Councilmember Kelly Ohlson said. “I have no fear, nor am I reluctant to consider and pass a resolution calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza, and I will proudly vote ‘yes’ for such a resolution.”

Residents also pointed out that there was no one who spoke against a ceasefire resolution. The support on the issue was unanimous among the over 60 people who spoke. 

“I want to give a sincere thank you to all of you who came out, either virtually or in person,” Arndt said. “I really appreciate the respect that you have for the chamber and for each other.”

Shehab Elhaddad, president of the Islamic Center of Fort Collins, shared his thoughts on the community turnout after the session. 

“I wasn’t expecting the city council to be full and (for) overflow to happen,” Elhaddad said. “I’m just proud of the community and the people coming together for one issue, which is just saving innocent lives. That’s the thing I think every person said today: saving innocent lives.”

Reach Aubree Miller at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.

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  • B

    BenFeb 9, 2024 at 9:42 am

    Wow. What an incredible waste of time and resources. This is not only pointless, it’s actively harmful to our community by diverting attention from issues we can actually address, like homelessness in our city. How much taxpayer money is getting sunk into running the city council meeting, drafting the resolution, paying the salaries of all the hardworking administrative staff that support the whole process, just so that we can be a little chihuahua yipping at Israel and Hamas to stop fighting? This resolution isn’t going to save a single innocent life over there – anyone who thinks it will is deluding themselves. Meanwhile, what innocent lives will be lost in our own city that could have been saved if city council’s time and resources had been better spent?

    Reply
    • J

      JFeb 12, 2024 at 5:59 pm

      No one told them that Israel already said they will continue the effort as they see fit; with or without U.S. support.

      Which means they can ask for a cease fire all they want, Israel isn’t asking for America’s permission, or approval.

      Also isn’t this the same group that refused to see the Jewish people freed from Hamas? But they’ll let anyone with Palestinian background share their voice, while claiming to be neutral and care about both sides?

      And after ignoring those survivors, they believe Israel will care what they think? You can’t make this stupidity up.

      Reply
      • S

        SashaFeb 19, 2024 at 2:38 pm

        Pretty sure it’s not about making Israel stop the genocide in Gaza – it’s about showing support for a cease fire to the U.S. government. More and more cities across the U.S. are passing such resolutions – and the more that do, the more it becomes clear that by continuing to fund Israel’s violence, the Biden Administration is acting in direct opposition to what Americans want. And since it’s our tax money being spent to murder people in Palestine, we should absolutely get a say.

        Reply
    • D

      DianneFeb 20, 2024 at 3:08 am

      I must agree; what a ridiculous waste of time and resources. Complete nonsense!

      Reply