Protesters in support of Palestine shut down San Antonio City Council meeting
About two dozen Palestinian supporters shut down a San Antonio City Council meeting on Thursday, forcing the council to go into an executive session. The protestors were in the council chambers for about 45 minutes before exiting and general access to the chambers appeared limited.
Thursday’s meeting was the first decision-making council session of 2024, known as A-Session. Thursday was scheduled to be a routine meeting with most issues centering on expenditures and appointments.
However, it came just two days after District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez had pulled his support for a meeting requesting a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in the Israel-Hamas war.
In December, Pelaez had signed a three-signature memo calling for that meeting to take place on Thursday. It was rescheduled and ultimately canceled.
The three-signature memo is a requirement to call for a special meeting on issues not brought forward by the mayor. The other two signatories, District 5 Councilwoman Teri Castillo and District 2 Councilman Jalen McKee-Rodriguez, have requested that the meeting still go forward.
District 1 Councilwoman Sukh Kaur invited two invocators to provide Jewish and Muslim invocations. They were given by Rabbi Mara Nathan of Temple Beth-El and Waheeda Kara of Ismaili Jamatkhana.
The protests began after the invocations and before the meeting conducted its regular business.
The chants went on for about 45 minutes including “Long live Gaza,” “Gaza, Gaza, you will rise,” and “Free, Free Palestine,” some chants accused Nirenberg and other council members of supporting genocide.
Tori Cruz, protest organizer and a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, said the council can easily support the resolution.
“Why can't the city council just say they want bombs to stop dropping?” Cruz said. “I’ve seen them do it for Ukraine and Russia...why can’t they just say they want to stop the bombing?”
She asserted that the group would continue disrupting council meetings and events where Mayor Ron Nirenberg is in attendance until the resolution is passed.
Nirenberg had called the meeting into executive session about ten minutes after protests began and council members left the chambers. McKee-Rodriguez and Castillo both raised their fists in the air in support of the protestors before leaving the dais.
The meeting resumed about two hours later. Nirenberg said while there is a public desire for the war in the Middle East to end and for there to be peace, the city council is in no position to advance that.
“The city council is not the venue to ease the tremendous pain and trauma that’s experienced in this conflict,” Nirenberg said. “I’ve made my thoughts very clear about that. We do have a role to serve our people in the affairs of our city. We’re going to continue to do that.”