In early November, after more than 10,000 Gazans had been killed by Israel’s assault on Gaza, the city of Cudahy became the first city in Los Angeles County to pass a permanent ceasefire resolution.

“We’re always told as citizens to participate, to call our congressional offices, to call the president’s office, and all these things, but folks were still not getting heard or being heard,” Vice Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar, who pushed for the resolution along with then-Mayor Daisy Lomeli,  told LA Public Press. “There was a sense of frustration as to what we can do and how fast we can do it. I’m super grateful that with the backing of our community, we felt comfortable, we felt empowered, and we felt enough courage to lead on this issue.” 

Cudahy is not unique – cities in Southeast LA were the first, but since October 2023, over a dozen cities throughout LA County have passed permanent ceasefire resolutions, demanding an immediate end to the ongoing mass killing, displacement, and famine that Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are facing. The United Nations’ top court has said the allegation of genocide is “plausible” and ordered Israel to prevent further actions in January, to which Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu responded: “Nobody will stop us — not The Hague.”

This ripple effect is the intended outcome of various organizers resisting the apartheid regime in Palestine in ways that can be felt on a municipal level. Through months of coalition building and educational outreach, these groups see that their joint efforts are being realized as planned. Most recently, the City of Maywood in Southeast LA passed its own on Friday, April 26, following the cascade of nearby cities that began with Cudahy on November 7, 2023.

“When you see that one city passes [a ceasefire resolution], you want to go to the next city next door because it’s easier to get that city to support when they see an example,” said Rida Hamida, founder of the #TacoTrucksAtEveryMosque initiative and the Latino Muslim Unity coalition, after La Puente passed a ceasefire resolution. “It’s not a coincidence that the cities next door are passing their own. We move on to Alhambra because that’s right next to Bell Gardens and Montebello. There’s a movement depending on proximity.”

Hamida and Latino Muslim Unity were inspired by the momentum of support for Palestinian solidarity and a ceasefire that was building in Southeast LA. When Bell Gardens became one of the first cities near San Gabriel Valley to pass a ceasefire resolution on March 19, Hamida began educating residents of neighboring cities on how the issues in their own backyard ultimately relate to what they’re witnessing overseas. Through introductions via group chats, Latino Muslim Unity invited residents to join a growing movement in calling for a ceasefire with educational materials. The ground aimed to create some mutual understanding that apartheid exists in their very own communities.

“Apartheid is just segregation, and we have experienced segregation here historically,” said Hamida. “It’s a shared vision of understanding that we all know what it’s like to be occupied, have experienced discrimination, dehumanization, and demonization of our communities.”

This education then extended to show the relationship between residents’ own personal issues and the ones that Palestinians have long fought for on occupied land. 

“While [Angelenos] are fighting for rent control and their social rights, we wanted to make sure that they understood that this is all intersectional,” said Hamida. 

In just two weeks after starting various group chats, Latino Muslim Unity found enough community buy-in to pack Bell Gardens’ City Council meeting on the evening of March 19, when they were to vote on their resolution. With the community’s support, it passed unanimously. 

One of Latino Muslim Unity’s most effective strategies to mobilize residents on a local level has been teaching smaller municipalities the cascading effects of U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons that have been used by Israeli forces to indiscriminately kill thousands of civilians. In cities like El Monte, where locals have been challenging their school board to appropriate funds for better infrastructure and education, the dots were easy to connect: there is no proper schooling if taxpayer dollars are going to an international conflict. 

“There is this urgency to support a permanent ceasefire by acknowledging the number of Palestinian lives that have been lost with our tax dollars,” said Hamida. “This [genocide] is fully funded by our tax dollars, and we have a social and moral responsibility to use these spaces to address that we are not going to be complicit in this genocide of Palestinian people.” 

According to the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, the average taxpayer will have contributed $5,109 in 2023 to war, the military, and its support systems. $1,748 of that amount goes to corporate contractors that benefit from U.S. militarism. On the public’s tax receipt, militarism continues to be the biggest expense, while education, public health, and environmental protection initiatives are further underfunded.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Yip.

This interest in how dollars are being stripped away from education and street improvement has yielded great attendance in recent city council meetings in El Monte, Pasadena, and other nearby cities. Many of the council meetings have also given up to two hours for public comment, such as in La Puente, where Mayor Gabriel Quiñones allowed every person in line to speak. 

According to Samuel Brown Vazquez of Avocado Heights Vaqueros — a grassroots organization that has long challenged the nearby City of Industry to stop abetting companies from using nearby neighborhoods as landfills — this space created for public comment was “unheard of” and “looked really good for us.” 

The San Gabriel Valley has long been home to the most refugees and immigrant families in LA County. With most of its population including Latinos, Chinese, and Taiwanese families, there is a solid understanding of the distress that comes from forced displacement or leaving a home. 

It is no coincidence that diverse neighborhoods like those in San Gabriel Valley have been the epicenter of organizing on local and international levels. Much of the population here feels some affinity for Gazans impacted by the genocide, famine, and mass displacement happening overseas. 

“I hear about these stories from my grandparents, my mom, and my parents, and I’ve always had to imagine what they tell me, but now I can see what they’re describing live in HD 4K footage coming straight out of Gaza,” said Andrew Fung Yip, an organizer and founder of SGV Progressive Action. 

When it came time to find buy-in with elected officials, Latino Muslim Unity looked to already existing community groups in the areas to inform them how to sway the City Council to voting for a resolution. For example, when it first sought out to pass a resolution in Montebello, SGV Progressive Action followed suit with support in turnout and organizing meetings with city council members. 

In the case of La Puente, Vazquez played a supportive role in advocating for a resolution with Councilmember David Argudo, with whom he has been working on environmental justice issues. 

“La Puente is historically extremely conservative and averse to anything remotely resembling [a permanent ceasefire],” said Vazquez. “I proposed it [in March] half in jest, but sometimes a city councilperson is going to know the dynamics on whether things are viable by agenda. So [Argudo] says, ‘Let me see what I can do.’ He had me shoot templates [of a resolution] to him.”

After Argudo expressed interest, Latino Muslim Unity and SGV Progressive Action aided Avocado Heights Vaqueros in creating a permanent ceasefire resolution modeled after one drafted by the SoCal Ceasefire Coalition. On April 12, the city of La Puente unanimously voted to pass the permanent ceasefire resolution.

Organizers have faced several challenges along the way, including city officials who suggest a more moderate stance on the genocide. Some of the key parts of the resolution the SoCal Ceasefire Coalition and Latino Muslim Unity drafted included an explicit demand for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all hostages and unlawful prisoners, and unrestricted entry of humanitarian assistance into Gaza. The resolution also expressly stated that over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, 13,000 of whom are children, and that over 1.9 million Palestinians have been displaced by the State of Israel. In cities like La Puente and Montebello, officials made attempts to soften the language, such as removing the word “genocide,” framing it as the “Middle East Conflict,” and taking away the number of Palestinian lives who were lost.

“It’s just trying to call for a permanent end to what’s going on right now in Gaza, yet it’s been challenging because a narrative has been pushed by Israel for so long that it’s hard for our politicians to say something or do something without feeling, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’” said Yip. “Even though they can see with their own eyes what’s going on and hear stories from both our Jewish and Palestinian community members, they still take a step back, which shouldn’t be the case because what’s going on is inexcusable.” 

Even with organizers advocating for more cities to pass permanent ceasefire resolutions, there are still some that have opted not to do so in the immediate future. In Pico Rivera, groups such as Pico-Whittier Alliance for Liberation and Peace and Pacifist Grassroots Collective continue to pressure at the city council meetings with public comments and a petition created after Mayor Andrew Lara dismissed the issue on March 26.

“These failures to adopt resolutions do not reflect a failure on the part of residents and community members but rather, they highlight the refusal of council members who are supposed to represent these individuals and fulfill their duties,” said Yip. “As we move forward, we will always remember that these city councilmembers and politicians have chosen cowardice and inaction in the face of genocide.” 

Organizers hope that city officials have the clarity to tell fellow electeds to follow in their respective footsteps. And for those who have already passed and signed permanent ceasefire resolutions, organizers hope that they will be vocal in advocating for them on a statewide level. 

“Israel doesn’t care if Alhambra or Anaheim or Pasadena passes a ceasefire resolution, but the people that do care are local elected members of the House,” said Yip. “We’re talking about city council members that have at one point endorsed these congressional representatives and vice versa. So we want to put political pressure on our federal or house representatives by going to the city councils.”

For many of the organizers, the cascade of city resolutions that came to fruition across LA County’s diverse cities is a source of pride. 

“I was very blessed to be raised in Monterey Park because I was able to understand how powerful diversity is and how powerful learning about different cultures is,” said Hamida. “I still have over a hundred family members that live in Monterey Park, and we called them out to join just like they came out in Montebello.”

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