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Marfa City Council declines to vote on resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza

Marfa City Council members hear from supporters of a proposed Gaza ceasefire resolution on Feb. 29, 2024.
Travis Bubenik
/
Marfa Public Radio
Marfa City Council members hear from supporters of a proposed Gaza ceasefire resolution on Feb. 29, 2024.

Marfa’s city council on Thursday declined to vote on a proposed resolution calling for an “immediate and permanent ceasefire” in Gaza that local organizers drafted out of concern about the growing death toll in the war between Israel and Hamas.

As NPR has reported, the number of people killed in Gaza has now grown to more than 30,000, though it is believed that many casualties are still unaccounted for.

Citing that death toll, along with the more than 1,200 Israelis killed during the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, concerned Marfa residents circulated a petition calling for the city council to formally declare its support for a ceasefire via a city resolution.

Though supporters said they had gathered more than 500 signatures from people who favored the cause, no city council member moved to vote on the matter at Thursday's meeting, taking the proposal off the table for now.

“They’re so out-voted by the numbers of support we’ve gotten, and this is what they do,” Eileen Myles, one of the lead organizers of the effort, said after the council declined to vote. “That was shameless.”

The text of the resolution - a symbolic measure intended in part to send a message to lawmakers - called for Congress to “demand” a ceasefire in Gaza and “the release of all hostages” in the war. The document, drafted by local organizers, also included a call for humanitarian aid and medical supplies to be sent to Gaza.

The resolution closed with a plea for elected officials - from the state level to the White House - to “take immediate action to use their position and influence to end the collective punishment of Palestinians.”

Similar ceasefire revolutions have been presented to officials in major cities across the country in recent months. While city councils in places like Chicago, Seattle and Minneapolois have approved such resolutions, officials in some of Texas’ largest cities remain split on the idea.

Mark Morrison was the Marfa council member who placed the resolution on the city council agenda after being asked by organizers to do so. He said he would have preferred to see a vote on the matter, but other council members indicated they are not interested in pursuing the resolution.

“I have a heart, I have empathy, and I hate what’s going on [in Gaza], but as a city council member I won’t pursue it, I’ll let somebody else,” said Eddie Pallarez.

Council member Travis Acreman said he was “very sympathetic to the cause,” but had reservations.

“I believe there needs to be a very high threshold that the voice we are using is the voice of the people of Marfa, and that it’s unified, and that we can stand by the text of the resolution,” he said. “This was not something that had the council’s support, at least at this time.”

Supporters told council members on Thursday that even though Gaza is far away from rural West Texas, they felt personally connected to the war and the ongoing human suffering there and wanted to see their concerns reflected by their local representatives.

“Calling for a ceasefire from a small town within the Chihuahuan Desert is a local humanitarian gesture, but where else can we start but from where we’re positioned within the world and with each other?” Kate Sterchi asked the council.

Organizers said they would try to get the matter before the council again at a later date.

“We’re going to come back, it’s not over,” Myles said.

Travis Bubenik is All Things Considered Host and Big Bend Reporter at Marfa Public Radio.