Members likely to vote on resolution Monday

One week after hearing 50 residents, most of them from Beacon, speak for more than two and a half hours, the City Council reversed course and during its Feb. 26 workshop drafted a resolution calling for “an immediate and permanent cease-fire” in Gaza. The council is expected to vote on the resolution on Monday (March 4). 

If approved, the resolution will be sent to President Joe Biden, as well as other elected officials who represent Beacon and the Highlands: U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, U.S. Rep. Pat Ryan, Gov. Kathy Hochul, state Sen. Rob Rolison and state Assembly Member Jonathan Jacobson. 

The resolution’s final copy was released midday Thursday and acknowledges the “deep personal impact” the war has had on community members. It suggests the city can help ease pain and division “through a statement of shared understanding and advocacy for the desires of the community to be heard.”

It condemns discrimination, harassment and hate speech and notes that the U.S. holds “immense diplomatic power” to save Palestinian and Israeli lives. In addition to asking for a cease-fire, it urges the Biden administration to condemn violence against civilians and unjust imprisonment; calls for the release of hostages; and calls for increased humanitarian aid in Gaza. 

At Council Member Jeff Domanski’s suggestion, it also includes language regarding climate change and how it can exacerbate global conflicts.

The move marks a shift for the council, which rarely opines on national or international issues. However, its last four meetings have been dominated by discussions of a cease-fire. Dozens of residents have spoken on the topic, with the vast majority asking the city to issue a resolution, while council members have debated whether it falls within their purview. 

With Paloma Wake, an at-large member, the lone holdout, the council agreed on Feb. 13 that it would not consider a resolution, but the deluge of public comments seemed to sway some members on Monday. 

“I have heard nothing but pain and hurt and fear from literally everybody on this issue,” said Amber Grant, who is also at-large. “I don’t see any way out but through. I don’t necessarily think that this is the core of what the council does but there seems to be harm all around the community, regardless of what we do on this issue.”

Grant suggested that the council draft something that “does not adjudicate foreign affairs, does not try to create a solution” but instead “recognizes the healing that our community needs to do.”

Council Member Dan Aymar-Blair said he agreed, and that “the cost of inaction,” or time lost from focusing on the rest of its agenda, would be high if the council chose not to write a resolution. 

Wake, who has consistently pushed for the city to weigh in on the conflict, as Newburgh, Albany and Hudson have with resolutions supporting a cease-fire, said she believes the issue is within the council’s jurisdiction “insofar as foreign affairs affect the people in our communities.”

Ryan Calls for Cease-fire in Gaza
Democrat has been targeted by protesters

Pat Ryan
Rep. Pat Ryan

Rep. Pat Ryan, a Democrat whose U.S. House district includes Beacon, called on Feb. 23 for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, Ryan called for a “mutual temporary cease-fire to both secure the return of hostages and to send a massive surge of humanitarian aid to Gaza.”

Ryan had resisted supporting a cease-fire but said his view changed because of Israel’s plans for a ground offensive on Rafah, which has a million refugees who have fled the fighting. 

“The threat of an attack there simply cannot proceed,” he told the Daily Freeman in Kingston. “The urgency to get this cease-fire just goes up every single minute, every single day.”

Ryan said a pause in the fighting would allow the return of roughly 100 hostages, including six Americans, being held by Hamas. “Both sides of the negotiating table, I fear, are more incentivized to keep fighting rather than to save lives and stop the violence,” he said. “That’s really why I want to add my voice and make clear they need to get to an agreement here.”

Gaza health officials say more than 30,000 Palestinians have died since Oct. 7, when Israel declared war on Hamas after the group kidnapped more than 250 people and killed about 1,200 more in an attack.

On Wednesday (Feb. 28), Nate Soule, a spokesperson for Rep. Mike Lawler, a Republican whose district includes Philipstown, said that Lawler’s position “has been consistent and clear since the start of this conflict: Hamas must lay down their arms, return all the hostages and turn over those responsible for the Oct. 7 attacks for there to be a cease-fire. There was a cease-fire in place on Oct. 6, and Hamas broke it.”

During the more than 60-minute discussion, Mayor Lee Kyriacou, who was traveling and joined the meeting by Zoom, spoke only once, and that was to voice his opposition. “We should not be entertaining or passing resolutions regarding foreign affairs,” he said. “We need to focus here, and if there are things we want to do in Beacon — if we want to use our convening authority and look for help from the faith community, that’s certainly doable.

“Most of the people in the community, not necessarily the ones who have spoken out, but the vast majority probably just want us to do our business and focus on the city,” he said, adding that the council should consider a rule or charter change to determine how it handles matters outside of its traditional charge. 

Aymar-Blair said he agreed, to a degree. The council should think about “how we deal with this going forward” but “this room has been jam-packed for a month with people who are suffering and in pain and we need to address that,” he said. 

Working with the framework of a document provided by Grant and Pam Wetherbee, who represents Ward 3, the council dictated portions of the resolution on the spot on Monday. As it worked, the City Hall courthouse was again packed with onlookers, many of whom held signs advocating a cease-fire. 

No public hearing is required on Monday since the council is considering a resolution, not a local law, so council members will likely hear public comment on the issue to begin their meeting and may vote on it later that night.

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Simms has covered Beacon for The Current since 2015. He studied journalism at Appalachian State University and has reported for newspapers in North Carolina and Maryland. Location: Beacon. Languages: English. Area of expertise: Beacon politics

Join the Conversation


  1. To do a letter or resolution on this issue of a cease-fire is collective and community activism. As far as the mayor’s and town council members’ positions on the matter, a simple solution for them would be to address this and many other local, regional, national and international issues as ordinary citizens. Unless there is a law to be changed, they, as citizens, can sign their names, with every other citizen on a letter or resolution as a community.

    I don’t think adding a statement about climate change is appropriate for this issue. That can be another collective community activism letter or resolution. Then we use the same process and produce one for ending gun violence, banning AR-15s, another for reparations, and social equity, education, taxes and jobs, education and housing and education and racism.

    Local issues are always global issues, depending where you experience any of the above. So yes, let’s collectively activate on all of society’s ills. Genocide and slaughtering children and families, surprise attacks and murdering innocent civilians going about their day, taking hostages, and killing in cold blood, or bombs, is equally inhumane. It’s our world locally and globally and if you want to participate in making this world a better place, you can start with one action, but don’t stop there, as one man’s war is another man’s greenhouse gas, or automatic weapons ban. Peace.

  2. “The vast majority probably just want us to do our business and focus on the city,” says the mayor. I’d love for the mayor to be transparent with how he’s arrived at this conclusion. Has he done an outreach to the vast majority of the community? Was there a referendum? Has he performed a poll?

    Stating all the important issues and values of the city in a resolution can have value. But the key, essential and overriding issue of the resolution must not be buried, a stand against war, and a stand against this war, to stop the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians.

  3. Why isn’t the city drafting a resolution for the immediate release of all of the hostages?

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