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The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Mayor Buffaloe signs proclamation in support of ceasefire in Israel-Palestine, community members express their support

During+the+City+Council+Meeting+on+Jan.+16%2C+the+audience+raised+their+hands+to+show+support+for+a+ceasefire.+Later+that+night%2C+Mayor+Buffaloe+signed+a+proclamation+calling+for+a+ceasefire.+
During the City Council Meeting on Jan. 16, the audience raised their hands to show support for a ceasefire. Later that night, Mayor Buffaloe signed a proclamation calling for a ceasefire.

Mayor Barbara Buffaloe signed a proclamation calling for a permanent ceasefire in Israel-Palestine Jan. 16, 2024. It additionally advocates for the release of all hostages taken due to the conflict and unrestricted entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza, among other similar requests. 

Isleen Atallah, a Palestinian-American student at the University of Missouri — Columbia (MU) and president of Mizzou Students for Justice in Palestine, and local Jewish community organizer Cass Donish gave a five minute-long public statement at the City Council meeting the same day, emphasizing local support for the proclamation. Around 100 Columbia residents attended the meeting, standing up when asked to demonstrate their support for the proclamation by Atallah and Donish. Those already standing raised their hands. 

Senior Luqman Sheth, co-president of the RBHS Muslim Student Union, said the proclamation is a hopeful result of community activism.  

“I think it’s important that we as a city stand firm against genocide and against the Israeli occupation and apartheid system,” Sheth said. “And it’s nice to see that our protests that we’ve been doing weekly have led somewhere, with that we’ve actually taken actions to move to a necessary ceasefire.”

Hannah Snodgrass, student at MU and member of the Jewish community, and Dr. George Smith, retired biology professor at MU and longtime activist for Palestinian liberation, met with Mayor Buffaloe to discuss the proclamation a little over a week ago. Both stated that a resolution would take months to pass, so they along with fellow activists Rashed Nizam and David Mehr agreed to pursue a proclamation. Donish, Mayor Buffaloe and City Clerk Sheela Amin edited the original proclamation draft for the final version. 

I think there’s a couple different hopes. First, obviously, the situation in Gaza with 24,000 dead and our tax dollars funding it — that’s unacceptable, and it’s horrific. And so I think the purpose of having this proclamation and why many other cities are also having resolutions and proclamations is to demonstrate to our government officials that we don’t support that, that their constituents do not want that.”

— Hannah Snodgrass, student at MU and member of the Jewish community

Dr. Smith said such measures taken by U.S. cities help express public opinion to political officials. 

“Well, like many of these resolutions, proclamations, letters and so on from cities, they will go to the president, they will go to the vice president, they even go to our senators and our representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives,” Dr. Smith said. “This is a way of just trying to make them understand that there’s a big swell of people in the United States that are desperate for this killing to come to an end.”

Along with serving a civic role, Snodgrass said the proclamation “sends an important message to local citizens.” She believes it shows Columbia residents that the City of Columbia is hearing their concerns and “trying to help as best they can.”

“I think there’s a couple different hopes,” Snodgrass said. “First, obviously, the situation in Gaza with 24,000 dead and our tax dollars funding it — that’s unacceptable, and it’s horrific. And so I think the purpose of having this proclamation and why many other cities are also having resolutions and proclamations is to demonstrate to our government officials that we don’t support that, that their constituents do not want that.”

Community activists have vocalized their support for a permanent ceasefire through a protest held every Saturday at 2 p.m. since October, which Atallah leads, beginning at Speakers Circle — one of two places on the MU campus allowing people to speak to crowds without a permit — and ending at City Hall. 

Although each person interviewed expressed their enthusiasm regarding the proclamation, Atallah emphasized that the weekly protest will continue until a ceasefire is enforced. Community organizers are also hosting an informational meeting at Daniel Boone Public Library within the next couple of weeks, where local humanitarian aid worker Rasha Abousalem will describe her recent humanitarian trip to the Rafah Crossing. 

“I was born in Palestine, [and] I only moved here around three years ago, so the whole activism part is not really a choice,” Atallah said. “I found myself being one of the few Palestinian voices on campus, so I really wanted to take advantage of that. I’ve always said being a Palestinian, your existence is resistance. So just me being openly Palestinian talking about where I come from, my people, my land [and] my culture is activism itself.”

Did you attend the Jan. 16 City Council meeting? Let us know in the comments below.

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About the Contributor
Shubha Gautam, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Senior Shubha Gautam is the co-editor-in-chief for Southpaw. She is also president of Mu Alpha Theta and co-president of Ethics Bowl. In her free time, Shubha likes to read short stories, bird band and watch new TV shows.

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