Around a dozen Stanford students raised signs and banners at the Palo Alto City Council meeting Monday evening, calling on council members to add a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza to their agenda.
Around 90 people attended the meeting, which lasted nearly five and a half hours. People supporting and opposing a ceasefire resolution raised signs in the audience. One banner in the aisle read “Israel bombed every university in Gaza. What if it was us?” Others lifted posters with the pictures of Israeli hostages, with the words “Kidnapped. Bring them home.”
Protesters, many of whom are involved in the Sit-In to Stop Genocide, attended as part of the Global Strike Week organized by the sit-in. The efforts call for Stanford community members to partake in their peaceful demonstrations and to “walk out of class and/or work whenever possible to join us.”
At the Jan. 15 city council meeting a week prior, 10 Stanford students attended to speak publicly to the council members about putting a discussion around a ceasefire resolution on the council’s agenda. Pam Martinez ’25 attended both weeks’ city council meetings.
“My hope is that every week, we’re just gonna remind them that women, children and also Palestinian men are suffering because this state is heavily militarized. The U.S. is supporting the Israeli state,” she told the Daily.
As part of the public comment section of the meeting, over 50 people stood at the podium and addressed the city council regarding a potential resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Several speeches were followed by heavy clapping and whistles, after which Palo Alto Mayor Greer Stone reminded the public to refrain from making noise during the public comments.
In one instance, a speaker was interrupted by loud interjections, after which Stone threatened to remove those not observing the chamber’s rules.
Among those who advocated for an agenda item on the ceasefire was Sabah, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), who did not share her full name during public comment.
“Two weeks ago, I listened to community members objecting against a ceasefire resolution, as that would cause division within our community,” Sabah said during public comment.
However, objecting to a resolution under the guise that it will cause more division “is willfully ignorant and manipulative,” Sabah said. “This division already exists.”
Other community members said that Palo Alto should have no role in the Israel-Gaza war.
Twenty-two-year Palo Alto resident Avivit, who did not identify their last name, said during the meeting that “while the Palo Alto city council has no real influence on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, a resolution regarding the war would have a negative impact on our local community [and] increase hate, extremism and violence, as it has in other cities around the Bay.”
A community member who identified themselves as Lori M. addressed the city council during public comments and concurred: “We all mourn the loss of innocent life in Israel and Gaza, but ceasefire resolutions make things worse.”
Lori then quoted San Francisco Mayor London Breed’s Friday letter regarding her decision not to sign the ceasefire resolution.
“Since the Board of Supervisors introduced their Gaza ceasefire resolution, and certainly since they passed it last week, our city has been angrier, more divided and less safe,” Breed wrote. “Sadly, that may have been the point. Their exercise was never about bringing people together; it was about choosing a side.”
Martinez argued that a ceasefire resolution is necessary for Palo Alto.
The Sit-In to Stop Genocide seeks to “get acknowledgement from the city,” Martinez said. She believes that it could pressure Stanford to push for divestment, adding that she plans to continue appearing at weekly city council meetings for “as long as the energy of my body [allows].”
After the initial round of public comment, Stone asked the audience to either stand up or raise a hand to signify their support or opposition to a ceasefire, causing mixed reactions from the audience.
Council Member Julie Lythcott-Haims ’89, former dean of freshmen and undergraduate advising at Stanford and now a congressional candidate, responded to the commenters.
“I am on the record, in writing and orally in this chamber at the Human Relations Commission, asking for a bilateral humanitarian ceasefire,” she said.
Other council members did not directly address the public comments regarding a ceasefire resolution.
This article was updated to reflect how an attendee introduced themselves while speaking during the public comment period of the city council meeting.