Naperville mayor announces city council will not initiate Gaza cease-fire resolution, audience outburst follows

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Naperville Mayor Scott Wehrli announced the Naperville City Council has no plans to bring a Gaza cease-fire resolution to a vote.

That statement at Tuesday’s council meeting was followed by a protest in the council chambers that lasted for nearly 10 minutes.

Audience presses for local Gaza cease-fire resolution

During the public forum portion of the meeting, 17 audience members called for a Gaza cease-fire resolution.

One speaker was Naperville resident Nabeeha Hussain, who wanted the dais to “acknowledge the pain (and) grief” of the audience.

“I know that those are members of my community, and they are not being heard,” said Hussain. “They’re coming to you in this room, asking you to see them.”

Mayor Wehrli says no cease-fire resolution

Following public forum, Wehrli addressed the speakers who advocated for the cease-fire resolution.

“You have been heard by the council and the community and will be in our minutes forever,” said Wehrli.

The mayor then stated the city council “does not intend” to bring a cease-fire resolution to a vote.

“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.”

Wehrli concluded his comments with a hope for peace in the region. 

Chants of cease-fire in council chambers

Once the mayor finished his statement, roughly 30 audience members chanted “cease-fire, now” for almost 10 minutes. There was one meeting attendee who chanted “Justice for Israel” in response.

During this time, Wehrli, some city council members, and city staff left the council chambers.

The chants continued until one audience member suggested the group take to the streets of downtown Naperville to continue their protest. According to a pro-resolution speaker, after Tuesday’s meeting, the protest fizzled out once the crowd left the Naperville Municipal Center.

Wehrli’s statement questioned by fellow councilman

When the meeting resumed, Councilman Ian Holzhauer questioned Wehrli’s announcement.

“You kind of spoke on behalf of council earlier by saying what we would or wouldn’t do,” said Holzhauer. “Did nine council members tell you that?”

Wehrli told Holzhauer a memo about the cease-fire resolution was sent to the dais last week.

“This was sent out to the council on Friday, and we heard no comments from councilmen between then,” said Wehrli.

During new business, Holzhauer revisited his concern, saying Wehrli’s statement at Tuesday’s meeting was not allowed under the Open Meetings Act.

“I’m not sure how nine council members can vote before hearing public comments on what the position of council is, I mean even if we wanted to, I don’t think that’s legal,” said Holzhauer.

City attorney says Open Meetings Act not violated

Naperville City Attorney Mike DiSanto said Wehrli’s announcement did not violate the Open Meetings Act.

“The Open Meetings Act prohibits contemporaneous conversations by a majority of a quorum of council members,” said DiSanto. “I think what the mayor suggested earlier was that the communication that was sent to council, that he didn’t receive any objections from any individual council members. I agree with you, council certainly can’t vote offline in that matter. That’s not what happened in this instance.”

Holzhauer doubled down, “I just wanted to make clear, I do not think that we have a consensus of nine, that was never established.”

The Naperville City Council functions in compliance with the Illinois Open Meetings Act, which reads, “Citizens should be given advance notice of and the right to attend all meetings at which any business of a public body is discussed or acted upon in any way.”

Third straight meeting with cease-fire resolution discussion

Tuesday marked the third straight Naperville City Council meeting where audience members voiced support for a local Gaza cease-fire resolution.

At the Feb. 20 city council meeting, nearly 50 audience members spoke out, with the majority pushing for the resolution.

The following meeting on March 5 drew a smaller crowd, but once the meeting adjourned, 30 audience members started chanting “cease-fire, now,” and directly addressed the dais for its lack of discussion on a Gaza resolution.

This past Saturday, over 75 people marched through downtown Naperville, demanding action on a cease-fire resolution from the city council.

Chicago, Bolingbrook, Villa Park, and Urbana are the four municipalities in Illinois that have called for a cease-fire resolution.

Note: The accompanying video has been edited for brevity.

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