Sunday, May 12, 2024

Intifada in the Council Chambers

Council Meeting of May 7, 2024. To see the pro-Palestine speakers start viewing at about timestamp 30.

by MEGAN PODSIEDLIK, The Pamphleteer, May 8, 2024- “You may only speak about items that appear on the agenda” said Vice Mayor Angie Henderson, facing a gallery full of pro-Palestinian protesters during last night’s Metro council meeting, “and you may only speak about the item for which you signed up.” In July of last year, a state law took effect mandating municipalities to take comments from the public at every public meeting; since then, despite Metro Council’s rule limiting the conversations to agenda items, the 20-minute comment periods have been commandeered by activists.

“Settler colonialism is a system of racist violence that seeks to deprive indigenous people of their rights, their land, labor, and resources,” said Tristan Warner from the podium. According to the sign-up sheet, Warner was there to oppose a resolution renewing Rite of Passage’s contract with the county’s only juvenile detention facility. Once he took the mic, he launched into a rant regarding settler colonialist regimes, claiming both the United States and Israel are based on the “logic of genocide” before concluding with “Free, free Palestine.”  

Next up was Diluvio Palazzolo, a “trauma and decolonization psychologist” who was there to weigh in on a resolution recognizing May as Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Palazzolo told the body that they are obligated to honor the “heritage of resistance against colonization, occupation and imperialism” by standing with “Palestinian Americans who cry out for the end of genocide and occupation,” before attempting to passify the rule to stay on topic by tying his speech it back to the legislation: “Palestine is in Southwest Asia.”

The majority of those who spoke during the public comment period were there to make a statement about Palestine, and the blatant takeover was the perfect segue into the council’s next order of business: an amendment to remove Rule 28’s limitations restricting the topics allowed for discussion. “What we’ve seen is individuals coming out and being very creative in using the agenda to speak to the council,” said sponsor Delishia Porterfield. “That has put our Vice Mayor in a precarious situation of having to determine if something is on the agenda.”

Though most members supported the change, a few had concerns: Councilmember Tom Cash observed that he sees the same people signing up to speak every month. Rules Committee Chair Sandra Sepulveda iterated that, regardless of the change, those who signed up to speak on actual agenda items would be prioritized. She took care to mention that she doesn’t anticipate anyone abusing or monopolizing the process.

On the other hand, Councilmember Rollin Horton wasn’t fully convinced; he expressed concerns that the change would create “a forum for bizarre, obscene, or hateful comments,” citing his observation of the recent neo-Nazi parade downtown. Councilmember Sheri Weiner then added a bit of pragmatism to the discussion, mentioning her concerns about those who use their time to discuss broad topics — topics the council has no authority to address. 

Ultimately, the council approved the rules change, as attendees holding “WE ARE NOT THE UNITED STATES OF ISRAEL” and “FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA” signs looked on from the gallery. One month from now, the public comment period will be open to any topic under the sun. After the vote, the majority of the pro-Palestine protesters exited the council chambers—small victory in hand. 
For a list of other significant legislation before the Council and the council actions visit the Pamphleteer at this link

Stumble Upon Toolbar
My Zimbio
Top Stories

No comments:

Post a Comment