Naperville City Council chastised after meeting for not addressing Gaza resolution

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Tempers flared after the conclusion of Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting, as several audience members directly addressed the dais for its lack of discussion on a resolution to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Audience pushes to have Gaza resolution added to agenda

Once Tuesday’s meeting adjourned, roughly 30 audience members started chanting “ceasefire, now.” Shortly after, individuals from the crowd spoke to Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli.

“From human to human, what is the hesitation to just include it on the next agenda as an item for consideration to be a symbolic gesture?” said Harwood Heights resident Jasmine.

Wehrli directly responded to Jasmine from the dais.

“To put anything on the city council agenda requires three city council people to raise their hands to do so,” said Wehrli. “None of that happened. Your words have absolutely been recorded for history in the city council minutes. The First Amendment, which we are respecting here tonight, gave you all the opportunity to be heard at the last three meetings.”

Some questioned which items the council was putting importance on.

“We’re going to talk about beer, really? But not this? It’s insane,” said one audience member.

After several calls to add the resolution to a future agenda, Councilman Benny White spoke from the dais.

“Our meeting is over and we can’t discuss it,” said White. “I’m listening though, we still can’t have this discussion.”

Why can’t issues be discussed by dais after close of council meeting?

Council members could not speak on a ceasefire ordinance after the meeting as the dais functions in compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

Chapter 1 of the Naperville Municipal Code requires, “All agenda items shall be introduced at the meetings by the City Clerk or City Clerk designee.” A Gaza ceasefire resolution was not on Tuesday’s agenda.

The city’s code also refuses the right for citizens to address the council in a disorderly manner.

Chapter 5 requires members of the public to sign up before the start of the meeting to speak, “identifying themselves by name and indicating whether they want to address the city council on a particular agenda item or during public forum.” Speakers are also required to address the council, “from the podium and state their name for the record before beginning their remarks.”

After nearly six minutes of back-and-forth dialogue, area residents exited council chambers chanting “free, free Palestine.”

Outside the chambers in the Naperville Municipal Center lobby, council members Paul Leong and Nate Wilson listened to more comments from the public regarding a ceasefire resolution. They clarified the process to get a discussion item on a future city council agenda.

Area residents speak out during public forum

Earlier, during the public forum portion of the meeting, 18 area residents requested Naperville join Bolingbrook and Chicago, the two Illinois municipalities who’ve called for a ceasefire resolution in Gaza.

The large-scale call to pass a resolution started at the Feb. 20 city council meeting, where 50 people voiced their opinions on the issue.

Bolingbrook resident and DuPage Township Trustee Reem Townsend criticized the dais for not bringing a Gaza resolution to the agenda.

“I saw that not one person on this board acknowledged any of those people for coming and speaking (at the Feb. 20 meeting),” said Townsend. “Staying silent on what’s happening is the same as opposing a ceasefire. It supports more mass killings of innocent Palestinians.”

Only one speaker at Tuesday’s meeting spoke against a ceasefire resolution: Naperville resident Bonnie Hughes. She said the topic is a “national security issue.”

“A resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza is clearly outside the scope of (Naperville’s) own mission statement to provide services that ensure a high quality of life, sound financial management, and a dynamic business environment,” said Hughes.

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