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My Statement on the City Council Ceasefire Resolution

The City Council took a vote on a ceasefire ordinance this week that ended in a tie (23-23) with Mayor Johnson voting to pass a non-binding resolution. So many people in Chicago are personally impacted by this crisis. Jewish Chicagoans with relatives in Israel, friends or family who were taken hostage or killed on October 7. We also have the largest Palestinian population in the U.S. here in the Chicago area. So we must remember that this conflict has real impact on real people's lives and families. 

I have been clear from the beginning of this issue that the Biden Administration, through their efforts, remains committed to working toward a sustained and permanent peace. Their negotiations should yield the release of all hostages, a massive increase in medical aid, food, and clean water to address the humanitarian disaster that is still ongoing in Gaza, and an end to the bombing of civilian populations.

We condemn all acts of violence aimed at Palestinian and Israeli civilians, including all acts of terrorism, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement, and destruction. Here at home, we as leaders have to stand vigilantly against the influx of antisemitism AND Islamophobia that has flared up as a result of this conflict. During the Wednesday council meeting, many of us were angry with the actions of people that you cannot see or hear on the City Council meeting livestream. One of the worst instances was the heckling and jeering of our one Jewish colleague when she spoke about women being raped on October 7th. Such demeaning behavior cannot be tolerated in the City Council chambers. Calls for violence against anyone, including threats to those of us who voted no, should not be allowed to continue. 

Throughout the process, those of us who voted no offered the council and administration a neutral resolution that could have passed quickly and unanimously, but was rejected. This substitute resolution called for  

- increased humanitarian aid to Gaza

- the unconditional release of all hostages

- asked that Hamas will not launch additional October 7 style attacks

- aligned with U.S. policy

- didn’t further divide our city and 

- encouraged Israelis and Palestinians to work together with international support, to reach a full and final peace.

Overall, this was yet another divisive city hall process that I worried was disrespectful to some of those impacted communities here in Chicago. This process has led to hostility on the council floor that we have not seen in decades and has alienated many Chicago residents who feel that this resolution does not adequately address their concerns and lived experience. Aldermen who voted no on this resolution have received death threats, with posts on social media singling out some of us in particular. Throughout this time, City elected officials have lost focus on the unacceptable violence in our streets that led to the recent deaths of several students and on the ongoing migrant crisis that continues to be inadequately managed. I hope to see an end to this toxic approach to governing the City and instead demand an approach to local governance that emphasizes efficacy and consensus-building. 

Alderman Scott Waguespack


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