East Bay DSA helped to get a pro-Palestine resolution passed by the Richmond, California, City Council and members are organizing around a resolution that is circulating in Bay Area unions.
After much turmoil the Richmond Council passed a resolution in support of Gazans 5-1 on October 24.
More than 300 people came out to the meeting, including local chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, DSA, and the Asian Pacific Environmental Network. The makeshift protocol for overflow and in-person comments made clear that the council was not used to such large audiences.
Public comment led to instant fireworks. A resolution opponent wearing a red MAGA hat took the podium and drew the crowd’s ire. The overflow room exploded into pro-Palestine chants and boos toward the speaker. Within a few minutes, the meeting had to be recessed because of interruptions from the Zionist faction, who were bussed in by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC). These outbursts continued throughout the night and included melodramatic appeals to police, stating they needed protection while walking back to their cars; calling Mayor Eduardo Martinez, a DSA member, a Nazi; and blocking entrances.
The “anti” turnout was concerningly robust but not close to matching the turnout and resolve of the “fors,” with about 10 “for” comments for every “against.” Supporters of the resolution, which consisted mostly of community members, called out opponents for spreading clearly retracted lies about beheaded babies and unsubstantiated claims about hate crime increasing against Jewish people. One commenter said that Richmond residents share many similarities to the people of Palestine who want peace.
One of the Zionist talking points — that this resolution was divisive and controversial — was beautifully countered by a young woman who noted that ending slavery in the United States was also “divisive and controversial.” Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Committee, noted that the same could be said of Jim Crow, the Vietnam war, and apartheid in South Africa, urging the council to be on the right side of history.
Several politicians from other municipalities called in and spoke. John Gioia, a supervisor in Contra Costa County, urged the council to withdraw the resolution. Rachel Kertz, a council member for the city of San Rafael who is affiliated with the Bay Area Network of Jewish Officials, a JCRC group, said that a city should not opine on human rights violations abroad.
Former Berkeley City Council member Cheryl Davila spoke in favor. Jonah Gottlieb, a Bay Area DSA organizer and a delegate for the California Democratic Party Convention in AD 14, said, “Israeli apartheid does nothing to keep Jews safe” and noted that failing to distinguish anti-Zionist Jewish people from the Zionist policies of the state of Israel is anti-Jewish.
The resolution ultimately passed by a wide margin and has prompted organizers elsewhere in the U.S. to look to Richmond’s organizing for guidance.
As for next steps, unionists in EBDSA are amassing support for resolutions in Bay Area unions. So far, UAW Local 2865, representing graduate employees at the University of California, and the Oakland Education Association have passed similar resolutions in solidarity with Gazans. Organizers in the East Bay were instrumental in having the SEIU CIR staff union pass the resolution with an overwhelming majority.