DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Police ordered the clearing of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors meeting earlier today after a heated protest over the conflict in Israel and Palestine.
However, the Board convened after a recess and ultimately voted in favor of both the original resolution to “support of the state of Israel” and a new special motion that called for “protection of human rights in Gaza and Israel.”
The initial language in the resolution was of unnuanced support for Israel, but protestors took issue with the Board not for condemning the killing of Palestinian civilians or acknowledging the situation in Gaza. After almost two hours of public comment, protesters stood up and began shouting, shutting down the meeting.
The original motion, sponsored by Supervisor Lindsey Horvath (3rd District), included a resolution “in support of the state of Israel and condemning the terrorist acts of Hamas.”
“[The motion] was one-sided and biased,” said Estee Chandler, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace which is an anti-zionist organization in solidarity with Palestine. “During [today’s Board] session a hospital in Gaza was struck.” Initial reports indicated that a hospital in Gaza had been destroyed by an Israeli air strike killing around 500 people. However, the Israeli government has contested this claiming that the explosion resulted from a misfired Hamas rocket. What the truth is remains unclear.
Protestors, speaking in public comment, decried the fact that the original resolution did not acknowledge what Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem have described as a decades-long system of apartheid by the Israeli state and military.
Although a part of a decades long conflict, the situation in Gaza most recently reignited with an attack by Hamas that killed more than 1300 Israelis. Since then, Israel has responded by bombing Northern Gaza, killing over 2700 and potentially displacing more than 1 million Palestinians, according to recent United Nations estimates.
The Israeli consul general — a representative of the Israeli government in LA — was present at the meeting and spoke to the Board, saying the issue wasn’t “about territory but terrorism.”
However, an overwhelming majority of people who called-in and gave public comments in person spoke against the item. Many highlighted that the motion did not mention Palestinian casualties and victims once.
After public comment ended, Supervisor Holly Mitchell (2nd District) acknowledged the comments in support of Palestine and said that although she would be voting in support of this motion she would introduce another motion in support of de-escalation and providing humanitarian aid for Gaza.
People in the crowd shouted “shame” at Mitchell. That’s when, protesters stood up and began shouting, “When people are occupied, resistance is justified.” The District Attorney Police then cleared the boardroom and closed the meeting to the public for the rest of the day.
After the Board took a recess due to the protest, they resumed and voted in favor of the original motion. They then went into a brief recess once again after some more shouting was heard in the boardroom. The Board continued with their meeting, which the public could join by tuning in online or calling in.
Towards the end of the meeting, the Board passed another resolution calling for “the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas to abide by humanitarian law in Gaza and Israel” and urging the Biden administration to “promptly send and facilitate the entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.”
“The only answer to end the violence is to end the occupation,” said Chandler. “You can never bomb your way to peace.”
Ashley Orona and Jon Peltz contributed reporting to this story.
This story has been updated to reflect a special motion made by the LA County Board of Supervisors.