Portland City Council’s first in-person meeting since November was disrupted Wednesday morning by activists demanding Portland join other cities—like Atlanta, Detroit, and Providence—in passing a resolution to support an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

While a cease-fire resolution was not on the meeting's agenda, three local business owners and one Palestinian American activist read brief comments to the council asking for the city to call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, call for humanitarian aid, condemn genocidal acts by Israel's military forces upon Palestinians, and immediately sever ties with Portland's sister city in Israel, Ashkelon, among other requests. 

Erica Montgomery reads her testimony before Portland City Council.  Suzette Smith

"We demand that you call for an immediate, permanent cease-fire in Palestine," Erica's Soul Food owner Erica Montgomery told the council. "That you enter into public record your condemnation of the genocidal actions of the Israel government. That you call for humanitarian aid immediately for the people of Palestine. That you resolve to end all military aid to the Israel government. That you call for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel. You immediately sever ties with Ashkelon. That you make a statement to support solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian Americans."

Following the public comments, the first of which even offered a resolution ready for the council to sign and pass, City Council took no action. Instead, the council moved into the set agenda, segueing into discussions about gas and heavy vehicle taxes to better fund Portland street maintenance and safety.

Amid scattered complaints from the crowd that the council hadn't responded to the cease-fire comments, a group of activists holding signs in the back of the room began to chant "ceasefire now." After warning the group, Commissioner Mingus Mapps, who was presiding over the meeting in Mayor Ted Wheeler's absence, called a five-minute recess.

After activists left the meeting room to chant in the halls for several minutes, the council reconvened remotely 45 minutes later. Staff offered in-person attendees who were there  about other matters the option of giving testimony remotely from another room, if they didn't want to travel home to join.

Wednesday's meeting was the first in-person city council gathering since November 15 and the first at council's interim location on 1900 SW 4th. City Council moved to the city's Development Services Building, also called "the 1900 Building," to allow for a remodel of City Hall's council chambers, which is part of the city charter reform.

The demand for a cease-fire followed a series of recent protests, rallies, and sit-ins by activists, all aimed at urging local and federal lawmakers to demand an end to the Israel Defense Force's bombing of Palestinians and other people in Gaza.