Nydia del Carmen, YTV Editor

A disruptive demonstration during Mayor Justin Elicker’s State of the City address last week underscored strategic disagreements among supporters of a resolution that would call for a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza — even as the proposal’s prospects remain uncertain.

Many protesters in a crowd of over 100 derailed Elicker’s speech for 25 minutes with angry chants, overshadowing a nondisruptive plan by other activists, mainly associated with Jewish Voice for Peace, or JVP.

Members of a loosely defined coalition lobbying for the resolution met virtually last Wednesday and Thursday to discuss how to proceed after the chaos at City Hall, according to Henry Lowendorf, a JVP New Haven co-founder who chairs the Greater New Haven Peace Council.

By his account, which the News could not independently verify, most participants favored continuing to lobby alders in private, as opposed to the sort of antagonistic public pressure used during the State of the City.

“We have to deal with the Board of Alders as human beings,” Lowendorf said. “There’s a recognition that you cannot bully the Board of Alders, and you certainly cannot bully Tyisha Walker-Myers.”

Since the resolution was proposed in late November, Board president Walker-Myers has not assigned it to a committee — which she has pledged to do — leaving the effort at a standstill in the legislative process. She and other alders have met with supporters and opponents of the resolution. During the State of the City disruptions, Walker-Myers raised her voice in annoyance but also stayed after the meeting to hear activists out.

Chloe Miller LAW ’25, an organizer of the ceasefire coalition who submitted the proposed text to the Board, declined to comment for this article.

On the night of Elicker’s speech, two groups of protesters attended the Board of Alders meeting to protest in support of the ceasefire resolution. 

Around 20 JVP protesters, wearing matching shirts, gathered at the entrance to the Aldermanic Chambers. At the same time, a larger group gathered outside City Hall, led by organizers from Connecticut Democratic Socialists of America and the recently founded group Socialist Alternative New Haven.

Yet after the alders and attendees entered the chamber, two groups of protesters jointly filled the entire back of the room.

Over a half-hour into Elicker’s speech, a Yale first year associated with Socialist Alternative, who did not comment for this article, loudly asked Elicker if he “can oppose Israel’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza” and support the ceasefire resolution, starting the 25-minute disruption.

Lowendorf said that he attended the State of the City to protest for a ceasefire resolution without disrupting the mayor’s speech. The JVP group planned only to sing before the meeting began, according to Lowendorf.

After the interruptions began, Lowendorf left the chamber, disappointed by what he saw as “an attempt not to promote a ceasefire resolution, and not to promote a coming-together of people, trying to unify people around some humanitarian issues, but rather an attempt simply to disrupt and project anger,” he said.

Twenty-one minutes into the disruption, JVP activist Zachary Herring ENV ’24, who had earlier spoken with Board President Tyisha Walker-Myers, got the room’s attention to call for greater unity.

“There’s more division that’s happening in this world; we need to be coming together. I can feel it in the air just in this room right now,” he said. When another protester began to interrupt, Herring begged, “Please listen to me. Please, please, I’m with y’all.”

After threats of arrests from police, the first-year activist asked protesters to “march out for Palestine,” saying in a megaphone that he did not want anyone to get arrested. While most DSA-affiliated protesters left the chamber, JVP activists stayed.

“Disrupting this proceeding is making me less likely to want to [support the resolution],” Ward 25 Alder Adam Marchand told a group of five protesters, with whom he had a long conversation.

Despite the chaos that night, several alders — including Marchand, Ward 19 Alder Kimberly Edwards and President Walker-Myers — told the News that they had meaningful conversations that night and hoped for them to continue.

Activists hoping to win the city’s full endorsement of their ceasefire resolution face a considerable hurdle in Mayor Justin Elicker, who said after his speech that he did not support the resolution’s proposed text.

“I’m concerned about the use of the word ‘genocide,’ for example. I’m concerned about the word ‘ceasefire,’” Elicker said. “I think there’s a lot of language in it that is thoughtful, but we would have to allow the process to move forward.”

The Board usually passes its decisions unanimously, but the Israel-Hamas war risks splitting its 30 Democrats. It is yet unclear whether the Board will find 16 votes needed to pass the resolution, let alone 20 to, per the New Haven charter, override Elicker’s potential veto.

Alder 26 Amy Marx told the News that a resolution about the war does not belong in the New Haven Board of Alders. Marchand and Edwards told the News that they would consider supporting the resolution, but not in its current form.

It is unclear whether activists are planning to disrupt future alder meetings.

The next full Board of Alders meeting is on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Ethan Wolin covers City Hall and local politics. He is a first year in Silliman College from Washington, D.C.
Yurii Stasiuk is a Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. He previously covered City Hall as a beat reporter. Originally from Kalush, Ukraine, he is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College majoring in History and Political Science.