Crowd of advocates urges passage of ceasefire resolution

City clerk Christina Rust records votes while pro-ceasefire resolution demonstrators stand at Monday’s city council meeting. (Photos/Nancy Hanson.)Moorhead City Council

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

A standing-room-only crowd pressed into the Moorhead City Council chambers Monday night to express their opinions on passage of a resolution calling on the Biden administration to “use its authority” to advance “a full, immediate and permanent ceasefire” in Gaza and provide “urgently needed humanitarian aid as a necessary step towards lasting peace.”
After 45 minutes of testimony from those in attendance – a dozen in favor of the resolution and six who opposed it – council members debated the effectiveness of such an action for another half hour. All expressed strong personal opposition to the violence in the Middle East. The main point of contention was whether the city council was the appropriate venue for issuing such an edict.
The resolution, which had been formulated and approved by the city’s Human Rights Commission, ultimately passed. However, the council’s vote was split. Four members – Larry Seljevold, Heather Nesemeier, Laura Caroon and Deb White – voted in favor. Two of the remaining four – Matt Gilbertson and Sebastian McDougall – voted no, while Ryan Nelson and Chuck Hendrickson abstained from voting.
That left the deciding vote to Mayor Shelly Carlson (who votes only in the case of ties). Her answer: Yes. She went on, however, to express reservations. “I will be voting for this resolution because that is where my heart lies,” she said. She emphasized, though, that she and the other council members were speaking for themselves – not for the city as a whole. “A number of citizens specifically came forward to say they do not agree with this. So we’re speaking as individuals who happen to be holding positions of power within the city.”
The resolution initiated by the human rights group and adopted by the council condemned “all acts of violence committed against civilians of any kind,” including victims of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas in Israel “and all subsequent Palestinian deaths.” After denouncing the “rise and all acts of racially motivated violence perpetrated against our Jewish, Muslim, Palestinian and Arab constituents,” it went on to “recognize the legitimate desire and need for Palestinian self-determination, as well as the legitimate desire and need for Israelis and Palestinians to live in safety and security.”
After casting her vote, the mayor went on to warn that the resolution must not be seen as a precedent to bring international conflicts and concerns into the body that specifically is empowered to govern only the city of Moorhead: “This is not the forum for commenting on international politics.”


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