On Nov. 2, Providence City Council passed a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire “to end the current violence” in Gaza.
The resolution “urges the Biden administration” to “facilitate de-escalation” and send humanitarian assistance to Gaza. The city council is “one of the first legislative bodies in the country” to pass such a resolution, according to Ward 6 Councilor Miguel Sanchez.
Copies of the resolution were sent to the offices of Rhode Island’s congressional delegation and the White House.
“A ceasefire should be the highest priority of everyone right now in order to prevent any more innocent civilian lives from being killed,” said Sanchez, who helped spearhead the resolution.
On Oct. 27, Sanchez was fired from his position as a constituent service associate for Gov. Dan McKee’s office after making pro-Palestine posts on X (formerly Twitter), WPRI reported.
The ceasefire resolution passed 11-1, with Ward 5 Councilor Jo-Ann Ryan the only city council member to vote against the resolution. Three council members were absent for the vote.
While Sanchez said the resolution has received pushback for being outside of the scope of the council’s jurisdiction, he believes the topic is relevant for Rhode Islanders because of the allocation of federal funds.
“The United States is funding a lot of what’s going on overseas,” Sanchez said. “In a time where we have desperate needs here in Rhode Island, it’s really discouraging to see those federal dollars go to activities like this.”
Thea Riofrancos, associate professor of political science at Providence College and member of Jewish Voice for Peace Rhode Island, said that while the resolution is largely “symbolic and local,” local governments can send a “signal to the federal level.”
Adam Greenman, president and CEO of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, expressed strong opposition to the resolution.
“The resolution is really unfortunate and uninformed,” Greenman wrote in an email to The Herald. “Of course, our Jewish community is heartbroken by the images we see in Gaza, and we pray for the innocent Palestinians. But we can’t forget that this is a war with Hamas, who broke the ceasefire on Oct. 7.”
In an email to The Herald, organizers with Brown Students for Justice in Palestine described the resolution as “the minimum response … (an) important first step” but “not the final action.”
Sanchez said he hopes the resolution will inspire a wave of “other municipalities or legislative bodies to follow suit.” He said that other municipal legislative bodies have reached out asking about the Providence City Council’s process regarding the resolution.
SJP organizers wrote they believe that “the actions of the City Council can affect national foreign policy.” The group hopes that the City Council will also “call for all charges to be dropped against the 20 students in Jews For Ceasefire Now who were arrested on Nov. 8.”