Raleigh City Council meeting ends early amid crowd demands for a ceasefire in Gaza

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Wednesday, February 14, 2024
Raleigh City Council meeting ends early amid chaos
Unruly speakers calling for a Gaza ceasefire resolution forced Raleigh city council to end its meeting early and evacuate the chambers.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Nearly 200 people filled the chambers at Raleigh City Council for Tuesday night's public comment meeting.

Of the first 26 speakers, one called for answers about arrests in Raleigh's Moore Square, but the rest addressed calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

One woman questioned the methods of the crowd. Lisa Hughet expressed frustration that public comment for other issues has been limited for months as calls for a ceasefire resolution have dominated the meeting.

"It's important to acknowledge the limitations of our city council, despite the genuine concerns voiced here, the reality is, the complexities of this conflict render it beyond their scope," Hughet told council.

The 25 others though echoed the same message -- they want Raleigh City Council to pass a resolution calling for a permanent ceasefire in Israel and Gaza -- a symbolic but ultimately meaningless gesture.

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Many called out Councilmembers Corey Branch, Jonathan Melton, and Stormie Forte, along with Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, for not supporting that a ceasefire resolution be voted on at council.

Mayor Baldwin read a statement during a meeting last week saying there was not a consensus among council and they would not be voting on a ceasefire.

Despite more than 130 people signing up to speak at Tuesday night's meeting, the crowd erupted in chants asking for a ceasefire after the 26th speaker. With the crowd unwilling to stop singing and chanting, council took a recess.

The crowd persisted for 20 minutes, causing the meeting to be cut short. The council chambers were evacuated and locked down for safety reasons.

The crowd spilled onto the sidewalk in front of City Hall and continued their chants and songs, demanding a ceasefire resolution.

After almost an hour, the crowd dissipated with the promise to return to next week's Raleigh City Council meeting.

No one spoke out with pro-Israeli sentiment during Tuesday night's meeting, although more than 100 speakers were still scheduled to comment when the meeting was cut short.

Raleigh City Council members Mary Black, Christina Jones, Megan Patton, and Jane Harrison have all co-signed a letter, along with 29 other North Carolina politicians, addressed to the Biden Administration and the NC Congressional Delegation asking for a permanent ceasefire in Palestine and Israel.