Ypsilanti’s Resolution

Action for Palestine Ypsi
Ypsilanti’s Resolution
Tree lighting ceremony in Depot Town 11/21/23 ~ photo credit Emily Mills

NIGHT ONE 

On November 7, 2023, Ypsilanti city council passed a resolution in resounding support for the plight of the Palestinian people–making Ypsi one of the first cities in the country to do so. 

The resolution was modeled after one passed two weeks previously by Richmond, California. It unequivocally named and detailed Israel’s bombing and destruction of Gaza as collective punishment and ethnic cleansing. Thousands of members of the public, including ourselves, found the council’s passage of this resolution as a beacon of truth in the heart of the empire.

It is our understanding that this country’s unwavering governmental support for Israel has nothing to do with justice or humanity–instead, it is a strategic choice to violently maintain a foothold in the Middle East. Many of us, and many others, attended the 11/7 Council meeting to strongly support the resolution, and all 6 council members who were present voted ‘yes’ to pass the resolution! It was a joyous night.

Upon its passage, the resolution was forwarded directly to representative Dingell, as well as senators Peters and Stabenow, and governor Whitmer. We would like to think our city influenced Dingell toward making a statement for a ceasefire (though Dingell recently made a disgusting, unverified, anti-Arab racist accusation, and her ceasefire statement remains slanted toward the interests of the Western empire in condemning Hamas but not Israel). 

We have heard that Ypsilanti’s resolution was a positive influence toward Detroit becoming the largest U.S. city to call for a ceasefire. A single-sentence midnight Instagram post breaking the news of the resolution on the night of 11/7 was by far What’s Left’s most popular post ever. 

NIGHT TWO

On November 21, at their next meeting, Ypsilanti city council rescinded the resolution in solidarity with Palestinians. Some of us were at that meeting, for various reasons. It seems that a contingency of Washtenaw County zionists lobbied Ypsilanti city council before the meeting. Many of them spoke at public comment to demand that the resolution be removed. Ypsi residents took the time to respond to their talking points to help guide those potentially interested in understanding the claims made that night.

*If you want to hear more aspects of that debate, explore hours of public comment in the link attached to the date at the beginning of this passage.*

Suffice it to say: we see the rescinding of the original resolution as a move that is broadly aligned with U.S., Israeli, and Western interests. Currently, those interests amount to a genocide of Gazans. Councilmember Steve Wilcoxen (Ward 2) proposed that the resolution be rescinded. He, mayor Nicole Brown, and councilmembers Evan Sweet (Ward 3) and Roland Tooson (Ward 1) voted to remove the resolution. Councilmember Desiraè Simmons (Ward 3) vehemently opposed rescinding the resolution, which she had put forward two weeks previous, and councilmember Me’Chelle King (Ward 1) joined her in voting against the rescinding of the resolution. 

” Across the country, spineless politicians, Democrats who pretend to care for justice, are proving their uselessness and complicity. Genocide will be on the ballot in November.

CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTINGS

In response to the city council’s reactionary decision to rescind, Ypsi residents organized demonstrations at two Christmas tree lightings in the city.

One hundred of us rallied in Depot Town on Sunday night, November 26, and reminded the tree lighting crowd that Christmas is canceled in Gaza, and around the world. 

We have written a collective statement about our actions that night. We understand that some of our neighbors are upset by our actions that night; we encourage you to direct that frustration at Steve Wilcoxen, Nicole Brown, Evan Sweet, and Roland Tooson.

The following Friday, we tabled at the downtown Christmas tree lighting and gave out informative literature.

NIGHT THREE (OUTSIDE)

On the night of December 5 the city council was prepping to consider, for the third time, a ceasefire resolution. We gathered outside of City Hall with drums and literature. We waited for the meeting to begin, and then around 7:05pm we decided as a group to shut down and occupy S. Huron Street. 

We proceeded to make use of some discarded traffic cones to build a blockade along Huron so that nobody got hurt. We made sure to keep a safe detour going behind Puffer Reds so that blocked traffic could go on their way. The Ypsilanti police immediately broke down the barricade and demanded we get out of the road! We held our ground and reminded them that our tax dollars pay for these streets, let alone their budgets, and that we have a protected right to protest. Confused and incompetent, the cops retreated to their cars awaiting further orders. 

A YPD officer shouts and pushes protesters outside city council 12/5/23

A second attempt by the YPD was made to disperse our crowd, using the same homicidal threat we heard within 5 minutes of occupying the Depot Town Christmas Tree Lighting: “Move or we will run you over!

In this moment, with no exaggeration, Ypsilanti cops decided to respond to our road occupation with immediate threats of murder.

We responded by strengthening our line. 

The cops yelled awhile, and retreated once again.

At this point, Washtenaw County sheriffs and Eastern Michigan police arrived to reinforce the Ypsi cops. In their last hurrah, the klan of police did a number of foolish and escalatory things very quickly. 

First, the squad car closest to us turned on its deafening sirens and began driving into the crowd, with about three blocks of an empty S. Huron Street behind it. Brave members of our group held our ground in front of the car while the cops then began to forcefully push protestors. They told us the car really needed to leave… even though the vehicle easily could have backed up ten feet and left at any time through the parking lot. Many of us rushed to help our friends who were shoved. More and more cops arrived. They created a human barrier around the squad car as it dangerously weaved through us, almost hitting multiple people. We immediately closed back in.

It was then that a Washtenaw County sheriffs’ car turned quickly onto Huron from Michigan Avenue (the wrong way). In a dangerous attempt at intimidation, the sheriff sped toward the crowd with their sirens blaring, lights flashing, engines raging, and slammed on the brakes before colliding with the crowd. We stood our ground.

At the same time, officers stormed a group of us, pushing forcefully and grabbing at phones. One officer yelled: “You don’t even live here!” to a cherished Ypsilanti resident. The National Lawyers Guild lookouts, along with our police liaisons, managed to get the cops to back off from the group.

*See video here*

The county officers backed away and huddled around for about 10 minutes. We suggested that the sheriffs try other careers with our encouraging chants of “Quit Your Job.” Shortly after, the county officers left the scene, and so did the YPD.

This was around 8:45 pm.

We were energized.

The night was growing late, but it was long from over. The meeting had been extended until midnight. Neighbors of nearby residences had come to join us, cars passing by were honking and waving. The only moment of silence was during a speech given by a survivor of the Nakba in 1948, who left the meeting inside to speak to us.

As the hours went by, we continued to chant and drum, echoing throughout downtown Ypsilanti. These are our streets.

The original resolution unequivocally named and detailed Israel’s bombing and destruction of Gaza as collective punishment and ethnic cleansing.

NIGHT THREE (INSIDE)

Inside the city council chambers, a member of the public makes comment 12/5/23

By 7:00pm, the city council chambers were bursting with people, consisting of a wide variety of diverse ethnicities, religions, and political beliefs. The vast majority came to speak against the atrocities waged by the apartheid state of Israel stationed in occupied Palestine. 

Council attempted to conduct their meeting as if everything was chill, but as the YPD police chief attempted to hand out police awards the sounds of drums and chants emanating from the street could not be ignored. Later, the fire chief interrupted public comment to mistakenly announce that the room was over capacity, instructing us to exit chambers and the halls. We quickly directed the city manager and council to open up the downstairs conference room for overflow, avoiding shutdown of the meeting. Some of us then lifted the window blinds of council chambers, exposing the sights of the street blockade and protest signs. 

There were a handful of particularly tense moments during public comment, specifically in response to zionists and islamophobes (some being Ypsi residents and others coming from surrounding cities) using their three minutes to spread harmful disinformation about the genocide. 

It was pointed out by pro-Palestinian speakers in the audience that the events of October 7th do not exist in a vacuum, and while we can grieve alongside those who were directly affected on that day, nothing justifies the carnage Palestinians are experiencing at the hands of a zionist regime.

As speaker after speaker voiced support for the Palestinian people, the council chambers transformed from a sterile box of bureaucracy to a space of solace for those of us that needed to be with others in truth. Around 10pm, the few remaining zionists wordlessly filtered out of the room. The rest of us stood in the chambers to hug one another, share snacks, and witness the final hours of a historic meeting.

The Final Vote:

An incredible 4½ hours of public comments had passed. 90 of the 95 comments were made in support of Palestine and a ceasefire resolution. An overwhelming number of those demanded that city council reinstate the original ceasefire resolution, rather than a ‘watered-down’ version. 

It was time for the vote. City Council ignored the demands of the original resolution reinstatement, and proceeded to have councilmember Simmons read her proposed ‘compromise’ resolution instead.

Councilmember Roland Tooson voted ‘no’ with no explanation. Steve Wilcoxen said he personally would “vote yes for a simple ceasefire [resolution]” but disagreed with some of the things that were stated within the resolution. In a repeat of the 11/21 repeal vote, he did not explain what he disagreed with. He then made a bold claim that there were more of ‘his neighbors’ at council on the night of 11/21, when the original resolution was rescinded, than this evening—suggesting that hours of heartfelt testimony were made by outsiders. 

When it was all said and done, Desiraè Simmons, Me’Chelle King, Nicole Brown, and Evan Sweet voted ‘yes’ on Desiraè’s “compromise” Ceasefire Resolution. Roland Tooson and Steve Wilcoxen voted ‘no.’

(Jennifer Symanns resigned earlier this day, although she’ll continue to be on payroll until the end of the month.)

Inside the city council chambers, a Palestinian flag is shown through the window reading “YPSI SENDS $305,056 OF OUR TAXES TO FUND GENOCIDE!” 12/5/23

YPSILANTI AND THE WORLD

Tuesday night’s council meeting was a massive success. With a record-breaking public comment session we showed the council, the local zionists, each other, and the world that we would not sit idly as the U.S.’s political ally and vassal committed a genocide upon our global siblings. Our power in the council chamber was bolstered by our power just outside the council chamber: we triumphed over the violence of the state, just as we will do on a larger stage in the coming weeks. 

These dynamics are not unique to Ypsilanti. Everywhere the people are fighting back with epic resolve. The heroic bravery of the Palestinian people, in the midst of an apocalypse, has changed us and made us stronger. Across the country, spineless politicians, Democrats who pretend to care for justice, are proving their uselessness and complicity. Genocide will be on the ballot in November.

One of the most incredible and terrifying aspects of this moment is that it is revealing the linkages between the brutality in Gaza and in the United States. As we protest American bombs in the Middle East, we are faced with armed and bloodthirsty agents of the empire here: they both resort to kneejerk violence, protected with impunity. Often, like in Atlanta, this relationship converges: U.S. police and the IOF work together to oppress the world. 

But the bloody relationship goes deeper still. All sorts of life-or-death activism around the country are shadows of the horrors facing Gazans, and those in the West Bank, daily. Gentrification and displacement and homelessness, access to healthcare, clean air and water, unrestricted travel. The list goes on. Their struggle is our struggle. We will not stop until Palestine is free.

The world stands with Palestine! ✊🇵🇸🇵🇸🇵🇸


Timestamped videos: Public comment and city council’s decision to pass the original resolution; 11/7/23 Public comment and city council’s decision to rescind the original resolution; 11/21/23
Public comment and city council’s decision to pass the compromise resolution; 12/5/23

You can reach us at actionforpalestineypsi@protonmail.com