Ethan Wolin, Contributing Photographer

The New Haven Board of Alders will not pass a proposed resolution that would have called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The full board meeting at City Hall on Monday evening marked the first time the alders took up the resolution for a vote, over five months after receiving the proposal and five days after hearing public testimony. The deliberations lasted fewer than five minutes and resulted in a nearly unanimous voice vote to “read and file” the resolution, which means the alders declined to pass the measure without formally rejecting it.

“We’re taking no legislative action on it,” Ward 27 Alder Richard Furlow, the board’s majority leader, who proposed the read-and-file motion, told the News. Board President Tyisha Walker-Myers declined to explain the reasons for the move.

About 150 pro-Palestine protesters — who had marched from Beinecke Plaza and held a rally outside City Hall before the alders’ meeting — entered the Aldermanic Chambers five minutes after the meeting began, filling several rows of seats and standing room in the back. 

The protesters, some of whom carried signs and wore keffiyehs, stayed quiet during the hearing. But once the alders adjourned at 7:34 p.m., the protesters erupted in chants of “shame on you” and “ceasefire now.”

The resolution draft called for “an immediate and permanent ceasefire” and the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian detainees, as well as efforts to combat antisemitism and Islamophobia. Local pro-Palestine activists and Yale students have staged months of protests urging the alders to pass it.

Ward 9 Alder Caroline Tanbee Smith cast the lone “nay” vote against discarding the resolution. Amid the protesters’ shouting after the meeting adjourned, Smith told the News that she decided to vote “nay” after conversations with her constituents.

“I sat down with Ward 9 neighbors, who want lasting peace. I wanted residents to feel heard,” Smith said. “I hoped that we’d use this tool that we have as a body to send a message to the federal government.”

Smith’s East Rock district was the sole New Haven ward where the “Uncommitted” protest voteorganized to protest U.S. policy on the war in Gaza — earned more votes than President Joe Biden in the April Democratic primary.

Gayle Slossberg, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, attended the meeting with her husband and spoke with several alders before it began. The Federation has been active in rallying opposition to the resolution. After the vote, Slossberg told the News that she was not surprised by the outcome and that she thinks the alders “did the right thing.”

New Haven Police Department officers ushered protesters and hearing attendees from the chambers at 8 p.m., almost half an hour after the meeting adjourned.

Sami, a North Haven resident who works in New Haven and asked to be called by only his first name for fear of retaliation at work, said that he felt “heartbroken” by the vote. Expressing disappointment with the alders, he pointed out that voter turnout in New Haven has been low in recent local elections. Sami does not vote in New Haven.

“You can be an alder with 150, 160 votes,” Sami said, pulling up the 2023 election results on his phone. “And these are the people we chose? We put our trust in them.” 

The vote came less than a week after the alders heard polarized testimony on the resolution in a public hearing on Zoom last Wednesday.

At the hearing, proponents of the resolution argued that New Haven had a moral obligation to stand against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, funded in part by U.S. taxpayer dollars. Opponents of the resolution said that its text, which does not mention Hamas, left out the Israeli perspective, and that the alders should not weigh in on foreign policy.

Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison, who chaired the committee of all 30 alders that heard testimony, said at Monday’s meeting that the virtual hearing had been “a great experience of how our community can come together and have thoughtful dialogue despite differences of opinion.”

“So the board heard the public on this issue, and that was the request of the sponsors of this legislation, that we hear this,” Morrison added, before endorsing the motion to discard the resolution without an up-or-down vote.

In an interview after the meeting, Morrison — whose ward includes six Yale residential colleges as well as the Dixwell neighborhood — declined to explain the reasoning behind the read-and-file motion. The motion left the resolution’s disputed text “a part of our historical records,” she said.

Over 100 American cities, including Chicago and San Francisco, have called for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. In January, Bridgeport became the first Connecticut city to do so, and last month its city council voted down an effort to repeal the resolution. In February, Hartford’s city council rejected a ceasefire resolution.

Ward 1 Alder Kiana Flores ’25, whose downtown district includes most Yale residential buildings, voted in favor of the read-and-file motion. She said that the move leaves room for further efforts to pass a resolution about the Israel-Hamas war with different legislative text.

“It doesn’t mean that there isn’t space to continue advocating for something in this city to unify this city on this particular issue,” Flores said. “There would be more work to be done to create a resolution that I would be good with fully saying that I 100 percent support.”

Chloe Miller LAW ’25 proposed the resolution to the board on Nov. 28 on behalf of a group of pro-Palestine activists. Walker-Myers assigned it to the Committee of the Whole in early March.

Ethan Wolin covers City Hall and local politics. He is a first year in Silliman College from Washington, D.C.
Ariela Lopez covers City Hall and City Politics. Originally from New York City, she is a first-year in Branford College.