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Protesters gather outside the Athens City Building on East Washington Street to call for a ceasefire in Gaza., Athens, Ohio, Feb. 19, 2024.

Support for a ceasefire rally held before Council meeting

A rally demanding Athens' support for a ceasefire in Palestine was held outside the Athens City Building before the city council meeting on Monday. 

Athens City Council voted on a resolution that would call on state and federal officials to facilitate and demand a ceasefire and de-escalation in Gaza during the meeting. A group of about 25 Athens residents and Ohio University students attended the rally to show support for taking American troops out of Gaza and mourning for those who have died.

The council voted 4-2 in favor of the resolution. Alan Swank, D-4th Ward, and Solvieg Spjeldnes, D-1st Ward, voted against the resolution.

Zane Mulliger, a senior studying environmental science and sustainability, was one of the students in attendance to show support for the ceasefire.

“As an Athens community, our city should be the one to really push our state legislators and hopefully even federally to demand a ceasefire,” Mulliger said.

Madz Hellbusch also arrived early to the rally with the hope that the council would make a statement condemning U.S. involvement with the ongoing war in Gaza. 

“Some people are here to hold space and mourn for over 12,000 children who have been lost,” Hellbusch said. “Some people are here to vent their anger at the lack of action that has been taken by our elected officials.”

People in attendance brought informational pamphlets, candles and flowers for protestors to take and show their support for the cease-fire resolution. They also supplied masks and hand-warmers.

Abby Hearne brought two dozen flowers to represent the lives lost in Palestine. She said the number of flowers does not compare to the number of lives lost.  

“Life is still there in Gaza and with the life that is there, we need to preserve, take care and be delicate with, just like flowers,” Hearne said.

Hannah Louck, a senior studying history, pre-law and sociology said she believed that because of how Athens is involved with international politics, supporting a ceasefire is the least the city can do.

“I think that we're already very involved in international politics ... especially in Ukraine,” Louck said. “We should absolutely be calling for a ceasefire, especially when our own government is complicit in what's happening.” 

Protesters showed their frustration with the government by chanting, “‘Hey Joe Biden, what do you say? How many children did you kill today?,’” “‘Ceasefire now,’” and “‘City council, can’t you see? Palestine must be free.’”

Mykal DeRamus stumbled upon the rally when taking a walk and wanted to show her support “in any way possible.” She said she hopes Athens can do what they need to show support for a ceasefire.

“I think that as a community level and as individuals, the biggest thing that we can do is talk about it and not be silent about an issue like this,” Mulliger said. 



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