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Councilwoman’s cease-fire resolution receives pushback from other members

YOUNGSTOWN — Youngstown Councilwoman Samantha Turner is proposing a cease-fire resolution in Israel and Gaza that is receiving significant pushback from other members of the legislative body.

The proposed resolution for council’s meeting next Thursday is very similar to one that officials with the Arab American Community Center of Youngstown presented in April to city council members.

But Turner’s proposal includes the Oct. 7 surprise attack by Hamas, a terrorist group, on Israel, that killed more than 1,200 people and took more than 130 hostages, condemns antisemitism and affirms the right of Israel to exist.

The heading from Turner is virtually identical to what the Arab American Community Center proposed as is much of the resolution’s language.

The resolution’s heading reads: “Expressing sympathy for the innocent civilians victimized by the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza; condemning violence of any kind; affirming Youngstown’s status as a welcoming community for those of the Jewish and Islamic (religions) and any other religions; encouraging residents to offer support and sincere condolences to members of the Jewish and Palestinian communities of Youngstown and all over the world; and declaring an emergency.”

Turner emailed the proposed resolution to her fellow council members at 12:19 p.m. Wednesday. When the agenda was sent at 3:06 p.m. Thursday, it listed “council as a whole” as the resolution’s sponsor.

Four council members who could be reached to comment Thursday said they didn’t sign off on the proposed resolution.

At 3:40 p.m. Thursday, Clerk Valencia Marrow sent an email to council members stating: “Disregard the sponsor stamp on the cease-fire resolution as it was stamped in error council as a whole. Councilwoman Turner was very clear on those members that supported it and that information was given to law (department) originally. I asked that law correct the stamp error on this legislation. There are other errors and we are working to catch them and I will be sending them back for correction ASAP.”

Turner couldn’t be reached Thursday to comment.

Council members Julius Oliver, D-1st Ward; Jimmy Hughes, D-2nd Ward; Mike Ray, D-4th Ward; and Anita Davis, D-6th Ward; said they didn’t sign off on the resolution.

“I definitely won’t be able to support something I don’t know about,” Oliver said. “Samantha Turner is the only one talking about the resolution. There’s something funny about this. It’s not possible to be council as a whole. Somebody wants us to pull our names off. We’re being set up since no one else I know is supporting it. It’s some B.S. going on. It seems fishy.”

Ray said Turner submitted the proposed resolution a little more than 24 hours before the agenda was provided.

“You send something past the legislative deadline,” Ray said. “I don’t want to be dramatic but what consideration did we get? It didn’t give anyone any time to consult or offer amendments. There was not enough time to review it to go into the packet. I have not looked at it.”

Ray said he’s been working on his own resolution.

“I discussed a buy-in with my colleagues that has to be pretty universal,” he said. “This goes to show we can do a better job in working on the procedure for council as a whole. I was never given proper time for consideration.”

Hughes said he supports a simple resolution for a “cease-fire against the war,” but “not taking sides.”

Hughes said Turner’s resolution is far too wordy and goes much further than he is comfortable supporting.

“I didn’t sponsor it,” Davis said. “No, no, no, no, no, no. I saw it, but I didn’t respond to it. Then I see it in the packet and I’m like no. I’m not sponsoring it. I’ll vote one way or the other. I didn’t know who’s the sponsor of it besides Samantha.”

In addition to Turner, council members Pat Kelly, D-5th Ward, and Amber White, I-7th Ward, couldn’t be reached Thursday to comment on the proposed resolution.

Palestinians and their supporters have spoken in support of council approving a resolution for a Gaza cease-fire six times since April. They have frequently referred to “genocide” and a forced occupation when talking about Israel and Gaza.

Turner offered on April 3 to propose a cease-fire resolution if the local Palestinian community worked with those in the local Jewish community to prepare one.

Bonnie Deutsch Burdman, Youngstown Area executive director of community relations / government affairs, said Thursday her organization is in favor of a cease-fire if Hamas is out of power, all of the hostages are released and Israel can live in security.

She said Jews are not for the destruction of Palestinians, but a number of Palestinians want to see the elimination of Israel.

As for Turner’s resolution, Deutsch Burdman said: “I find it hurtful. It’s disappointing. There was no agreement on a cease-fire resolution. Samantha submitted it on her own. This is the first day we’re hearing about this resolution. Our campus exists in her ward and we’re good residents of Youngstown and the North Side.”

Since the Hamas surprise attack, Israel has responded in the Gaza Strip, killing more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

The war has driven about 80% of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million from their homes and pushed northern Gaza to the brink of famine, according to the Associated Press.

At a May 16 council meeting, Turner read a letter she sent to U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and J.D. Vance advocating “for an immediate cease-fire that prioritizes the safety and well-being on all sides. This violence has resulted in tragic loss of life, widespread destruction and profound suffering for innocent civilians.”

The letter added: “You may stand in solidarity with the people of Israel or Gaza. That is your right, but we cannot continue to ignore the cycle of violence and suffering that is affecting the world.”

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