Pro-Palestine protestors temporarily shut down City Council meeting Tuesday night

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators disrupting an Alexandria City Council meeting (photo courtesy Alexandria for Palestine)

After months of contention between Alexandria leaders and a group of pro-Palestinian activists, a group of demonstrators temporarily shut down a City Council meeting last night (Tuesday) to demand leaders pass a ceasefire resolution.

The City Council chambers had been filled up with demonstrators holding signs calling for a ceasefire resolution and, around 7:50 p.m., protestors went to the front of the room and hung a Pro-Palestine banner in front of the dais.

By 8 p.m., the protestors left the City Council chambers and the meeting resumed — with a much more empty audience chamber.

“I believe that after 220 days of total silence by Mayor [Justin] Wilson and the entire City Council in the face of a world-historic genocide — a horror that’s dramatically impacted so many local residents here in Alexandria itself — we need to do everything we can to show City Council that Alexandria residents want a permanent ceasefire now,” Melissa Petisa, a lead organizer with Alexandria For Palestine, said in a  release.

The release said the group demands:

  • Alexandria City Council pass a resolution for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Disband the Virginia Israel Advisory Board
  • Dismiss all charges against protestors
  • Halt all aid to Israel

“Free speech and expression is foundational for our form of governance. We welcome it and cherish it,” Wilson told ALXnow. “We will not, however, tolerate the disruption of public proceedings. Such disruptions disrespect both the residents we serve and the public servants who serve them, and ultimately do nothing to impact the conduct of global conflicts.”

Pro-Palestine protestors have been at City Council meetings and speaking in the public comment period since late last year. Activists have pressured the City to pass a resolution supporting a ceasefire in Israel, though behind the scenes there have been efforts to keep a vote on a ceasefire resolution from ever reaching the City Council agenda.

In March, the Human Rights Commission approved a recommendation for a Gaza ceasefire.

The Washington Post asked Mayoral and City Council candidates, which includes incumbents, point-blank whether or not the City Council should pass a ceasefire resolution. Among the incumbents, City Council members Canek Aguirre and John Chapman said the City should, while Council members Sarah Bagley, Alyia Gaskins, Kirk McPike and Vice Mayor Amy Jackson said the city should not.