Naperville-area residents return to council chambers over cease-fire resolution 

Councilman Benny White speaking to cease-fire supporters.
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Over 30 speakers and 26 written comments voiced support for a local Gaza cease-fire resolution at Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting.

This was the fifth consecutive meeting where many area residents spoke in support of such a resolution, though the topic has never appeared on a city council agenda.

Cease-fire supporters say it’s Naperville-centered

Several speakers addressed statements about a Gaza cease-fire resolution not being a Naperville issue.

“Mayor Wehrli, you once said the situation in Gaza is clearly outside the scope of our local municipal government… You say that calling for a cease-fire in Gaza is not a Naperville issue but your longtime Naperville Muslim residents are experiencing Islamophobia and violence at unprecedented levels,” said Maryam Sultan, a Naperville resident. 

Sultan addressed Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli’s statement from the March 19 city council meeting, when he said the city does not intend to initiate a Gaza cease-fire resolution.

“Naperville residents have entrusted the city council with the responsibility of determining whether official action is appropriate and in the interest of our community,” said Wehrli. “We are guided by the city’s mission statement and powers and functions section of the Naperville Municipal Code… The situation is clearly outside the scope of our local municipal  government.”

Supporters like Beenish Tanvir echoed Sultan’s thoughts on a cease-fire resolution, adding that several Naperville residents are also experiencing antisemitism from a lack of a resolution.

Mayor Wehrli did not comment on any statements at Tuesday’s meeting. 

Speakers state other reasons the city should pass a resolution

Many speakers stated other reasons they believe the city council should pass a cease-fire resolution.

Former Democratic primary candidate for the U.S. House 11th Congressional District seat Qasim Rashid said the claim that Naperville should not engage in a cease-fire resolution because it’s an international affair is “wrong practically, democratically, and historically.”

Rashid cited the Naperville Sister Cities Commission as an example, which partners with Nitra, Slovakia; Cancun, Mexico; and Pátzcuaro, México.

“The goal of which, and I’m quoting from the website [is], ‘an open dialogue to learn, work, and solve problems together’,” said Rashid. “[a cease-fire resolution] is one such opportunity.” 

Naperville resident Ben Goldberg used the example of the decommissioned ambulance donated by the city to Ukraine in 2022 as another reason Naperville should pass a cease-fire resolution.

“So clearly there is a precedent that has been set by this very council… Celebrating Naperville’s participation in aiding civilian causes in times of warfare and humanitarian suffering,” said Goldberg. 

The ambulance donation was inspired in part due to Ukraine being a neighboring country to Naperville’s sister city Nitra, Slovakia.

City Council members respond after public comment

After the public forum, some council members addressed the cease-fire supporters.

Councilman Josh McBroom commented on Goldberg’s statement, saying, “The speaker maybe inadvertently showed what the slippery slope can do.”

McBroom said passing a cease-fire resolution would put future pressure on the city council like the Ukraine ambulance donation had at Tuesday’s meeting.

“I do believe that if we did something like this, there’s a lot of atrocities that happen all over the world, and this would be used just like the Ukrainian [ambulance] would be used,” said McBroom.

He said he appreciated the supporters for speaking but believes the community elects council members to handle local matters and not international ones.

Councilman Benny White thanked the speakers for sharing their beliefs and said that though most council members want to stay within local issues, this does not dismiss empathy for the supporters and what’s happening in Gaza.

“I don’t know if it’s a council thing that we would expect to have or something that community members get together and figure out. I don’t know what the right answer is and I’m not necessarily advocating for one or the other but I do want to let you know that I’m listening,” said White.

White stayed after the meeting to speak with some cease-fire supporters. 

Looking ahead

No resolution was passed at Tuesday’s meeting nor was it said to be added to the next city council agenda.

Chicago, Bolingbrook, Villa Park, Urbana, Burr Ridge, and Batavia are the six municipalities in Illinois that have passed a local cease-fire resolution.

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