D.C. residents blitz Council, demand ceasefire resolution before summer recess

WASHINGTON—On Tuesday, July 2, one week before the last legislative session of the D.C. Council before summer recess, over 100 residents attended an advocacy day planned by the D.C. for Ceasefire Now Coalition. The effort was initiated to show strength in numbers and mobilize community members to urge their local elected officials to represent their views on the issue of a Gaza ceasefire.

The effort was broken into different affinity groups organized by ward, faith, and students. The latter was led by students from Jackson-Reed High School who were banned by school officials from screening the film Occupation of the American Mind, which discusses the history of the Israeli government’s propaganda machine within the United States.

The banning of the film was a result of a years-long effort by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), which has been pushing the narrative of Israel’s fascist government in D.C. public schools in the name of “combating anti-Semitism.” Many activists say that justifying the apartheid of the Israeli state, however, is fueling anti-Palestinian racism.

Courtesy of Brandon Ellis

Residents of Ward 1 and the local D.C. chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace held a meeting with Councilwoman Brianne Nadeau in the morning, decrying the weaponization of anti-Semitism and urging her to not stand in the way of a ceasefire resolution being introduced or brought to the legislative agenda.

Nadeau took offense to accusations that have been aired alleging she has used her Jewish identity as cover to chill ceasefire discussion in the council chamber and effectively prevent a resolution from being introduced. According to local observers, she has gone to great lengths to block any movement on a ceasefire statement, including telephoning every council member after a council staffer’s letter advocating a ceasefire leaked.

She has also met regularly with the JCRC, which just months ago, issued an open letter calling on councilmembers to not allow a ceasefire resolution to emerge. She most recently chastised local Black faith leaders and leading activists in D.C. for Ceasefire Now Coalition in private conversations, saying that any ceasefire resolution would effectively be targeting her because she is Jewish.

Despite her public opposition to a resolution, the residents of her ward, Ward 1, have shown overwhelming support for a ceasefire and an end to the genocide in Gaza.

At-large Councilwoman Christina Henderson has come out in support of a ceasefire resolution and has even considered being the leading council member to introduce it. The Coalition is now trying to organize supporting council members around supporting her in this effort.

During the advocacy day, Ward 6 constituents met with Councilman Charles Allen, who gave positive feedback about the ceasefire effort, even taking offense that he was not purported to be in full support of a resolution being put forth. There were also private conversations with Ward 8 Councilman Trayon White, who purportedly said he would vote in favor of a ceasefire resolution if it were on the agenda, even going as far as having full support for one.

Lastly, residents met with the staff of At-large Councilmember Robert White, who was instrumental in passing a resolution in 2023 on ending the terrorism designation and blockade of Cuba. His staff responded warmly to requests that he seek out a co-sponsor and introduce the resolution.

It is increasingly clear that if a resolution is introduced and brought to the agenda, it would pass with a majority council vote. Chairperson Phil Mendelson, while adamantly irritated at the advocates, said he would not retain nor block a resolution if it were brought forth in the Committee of the Whole, which he chairs.

Courtesy of Brandon Ellis

Jewish Voice for Peace member and D.C. resident Allyson spoke with People’s World at the event, saying, “I think it should be obvious to the Council by now that D.C. residents aren’t going to buy this false narrative that a symbolic resolution in support of the Palestinian people is somehow anti-Semitic or has a negative bearing on American Jewish life. It’s not about us, and people know that. We’re talking about genocide.”

Furthermore, she said, “There’s a real fear issue at play here. No one wants to be the one to catch the flak from the JCRC and the ADL. Our council members in support of a ceasefire aren’t alone. They have us and they have our networks.” Allyson said that the advocacy day also made clear that they have each other, too. “Seven councilmembers have shared their support for a resolution. Now they need to coordinate with each other. Takoma Park City Council survived the bullying from the JCRC when they passed their resolution. D.C. will too, and we’ll be there to make sure of that.”

The campaign for a ceasefire resolution is also an important part of D.C.’s struggle for “Home Rule” and against the Congressional Republican-led oversight of the district’s internal affairs.

The advocacy group that descended on Council on July 2 was assembled by a coalition of interfaith, multiracial, multinational, and intergenerational D.C. constituents who have an understanding of how D.C.’s position – as both a city without representation and a city with the most influence on foreign policy – enables it to play a unique role in the fight for a ceasefire.


Lo Cropper
Lo Cropper

Lo Cropper is a local community organizer with the Claudia Jones School for Political Education in Washington, D.C. He is currently co-chair of the D.C. Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and involved with the Palestine and Cuba solidarity movements.

Jamal Rich
Jamal Rich

Jamal Rich writes from Washington, D.C. where he is active with the Claudia Jones School for Political Education.