The Chicago City Council voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, making it the largest city in the United States to do so.
Mayor Brandon Johnson broke a 23-to-23 tie to ensure passage of the resolution.
Before the council discussion, residents and activists spoke passionately about their support of a cease-fire, cheering and clapping for their peers. Mr. Johnson at one point cleared the council chamber to lower the volume of dissent while Debra Silverstein, the council’s only Jewish member, spoke in opposition to the resolution.
Similar debates have played out in communities nationwide as the passions ignited by the war in Gaza have reverberated through American politics. But the issue has been particularly contentious in Chicago and its suburbs. On Tuesday, hundreds of Chicago Public School students walked out of class in support of the resolution.
“You serve a county that is home to the largest population of Palestinians in America, Palestinians who have been here because they were exiled for the last 75 years,” a resident said during the public-comment session that preceded the council discussion and vote. “For four months, you’ve heard us loud and clear, and it’s a shame that it’s taken this long.”
The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the civil rights activist, attended the meeting in support of the resolution. He is one of many Black religious leaders across the country who have called on President Biden for a cease-fire.
Alderman Daniel La Spata, a sponsor on the resolution, acknowledged on Wednesday that the city’s vote would not directly affect international policy.
“We vote with solidarity,” Mr. La Spata said. “We vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.”
But despite the emotions surrounding the issue, council members held a largely restrained and respectful discussion.
“I think some of the arguments here on the floor defy some logic,” Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said, adding: “We all want peace, as we said, but how can we want peace and be against cease-fire?”
The topic has been contentious among city leadership since the Oct. 7 attacks. Ms. Silverstein won passage of a resolution condemning Hamas a week after the attack, and on Wednesday she lamented that similar language was not part of this resolution as well.
“We all want an end to the bloodshed and an end to the war,” Ms. Silverstein said during Wednesday’s meeting. “But it is vital to understand what caused the conflict, and we should pass a resolution that addresses the issue responsibly.”
Around 70 cities in the country, including San Francisco, Seattle and Detroit, have passed resolutions on the war, with at least 47 of those calling for an immediate cease-fire, according to Reuters.