Vote caps five weeks of heated meetings

Sixty-eight speakers made public comments over more than 3 1/2 hours on Monday (March 4) before the Beacon City Council at 11 p.m. adopted a resolution calling for an “immediate, permanent and negotiated multilateral” cease-fire in Gaza. 

The measure passed 5-0, with Jeff Domanski and Mayor Lee Kyriacou abstaining. The vote drew loud applause from one side of the City Hall courtroom; the resolution will now be sent to President Joe Biden and other federal and state elected officials who represent Beacon and the Highlands. 

During the public comment, audience members held signs indicating their positions on the resolution. Photo by J. Simms
During the public comment, audience members held signs indicating their positions on the resolution. (Photo by J. Simms)

The council approved a resolution that differs from a version posted on the city’s website on Feb. 29. After listening to the public comment, council members announced they would be voting on a draft that had been circulated (but not posted) that afternoon. 

Domanski said afterward that he abstained because the resolution fell short on “more universal and Beacon-specific guidance” it could have included. He also expressed concern that the council did not vote on the version of the document that the public was able to see and comment on. Kyriacou has opposed the resolution from the beginning, saying the City Council should not weigh in on issues outside of Beacon.

The council last month signaled that it would not address the conflict through a resolution but pivoted two weeks ago after public outcry. 

On Monday, the room was sharply divided. A majority of the speakers asked the council to approve the resolution, although there were a significant number who opposed it. There was shouting from spectators, and Kyriacou made liberal use of the gavel in an attempt to keep order. 

Many who opposed the measure described it as one-sided and divisive. Proponents cited the number of Palestinian lives lost in the conflict and demanded the council “be on the right side of history.” 

The Resolution

City of Beacon City Council


WHEREAS, all human life is precious; and

WHEREAS, the City of Beacon aspires to be a safe and welcoming community, and is committed to promoting peace, unity and respect for all of its residents and community members; and

WHEREAS, on October 7th, 2023, 1,200 Israeli citizens were killed and 240 taken hostage, and since then more than 30,000 Palestinian citizens have been killed and more than 1.5 million are at risk of starvation; and

WHEREAS, the City of Beacon expresses its unwavering support and empathy for all members of the Beacon community who have been impacted by the violence happening in Palestine and Israel; and

WHEREAS, the City of Beacon acknowledges the deep personal impact that the violence in Palestine and Israel has had on numerous members of our community, and extends its sincere condolences to those who have lost loved ones and extended family members in this conflict; and

WHEREAS, the City of Beacon encourages all residents and community members to treat one another with empathy, compassion, and respect; and

WHEREAS, the City of Beacon condemns all forms of racism, discrimination, and violence (and support thereof) which target Arab, Palestinian, Muslim, Jewish, Israeli, or other communities, as well as any other form of intimidation, “doxxing,” harassment, public shaming, and hate speech, whether online or in-person; and

WHEREAS, the United States holds immense diplomatic power to facilitate an effective peace process; and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Beacon urges the Biden Administration to:

Call for and facilitate an immediate and permanent negotiated multilateral ceasefire, towards a formal regional peace process, as well as normalized regional relations; and

Call for the release of all hostages and those unjustly imprisoned, both Israeli and Palestinian; and

Call for the immediate increased flow of humanitarian aid into all of Gaza, facilitated by mutually-trusted third parties.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Beacon:

Calls for continued open, honest, respectful, and tolerant conversation among our local community in support of our common humanity; and

Recognizes the importance of addressing the root causes of crises to the development of a pathway to lasting peace and justice, and to educating the public on the interconnectedness of climate change, global conflicts, and fostering awareness and dialogues within the community.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that upon passage, a copy of this Resolution shall be sent to the Office of U.S. President Joe Biden, the Office of U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, the Office of U.S. Representative Pat Ryan, the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul, the Office of State Senator Rob Rolison, and the Office of State Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson. 

Chaos erupted briefly at around the two-hour mark. While speaking, a man who identified himself as a member of the Beacon Hebrew Alliance synagogue equated supporters of the resolution with “people that are terrorizing their own citizens,” prompting several audience members to object, saying he had portrayed them as “terrorists.”

Kyriacou restarted the three-minute time limit for the man after the interruption. Moments later, Neesee Lee, a Wallkill resident who said she is of Palestinian descent, came to the podium. Lee said she would not adhere to the three-minute clock because Kyriacou had “restarted a racist person’s time without calling out the racist comments he made.”

She continued speaking when her time expired and began to shout, ignoring Kyriacou’s request for her to finish her statement. As she shouted, City Administrator Chris White unplugged her microphone, but Lee stepped away from the podium and shouted louder as she continued reading her statement. 

Kyriacou got up from his seat and, also without a microphone, loudly called the next speaker’s name. The mayor and the speaker faced off for a moment until Lee finished her statement, ending it with “and you’re a racist,” as she took her coat and left the room. 

Beacon police officers showed up moments later but did not stay in the courtroom for long or remove anyone.

Poughkeepsie Chair Ends Meeting

The Poughkeepsie Common Council ended its meeting on Tuesday (March 6) after 45 minutes because some audience members refused to stop yelling at each other. 

The meeting began with public comment, and most speakers offered thoughts about a resolution proposed by five council members that calls for a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages.

After public comment ended, audience members continued to shout. Chair Da’Ron Wilson, who had earlier asked for spectators to remain civil, called for a motion to adjourn, which was offered, seconded and passed. No other items on the agenda were addressed.

While the majority of the speakers Monday were from Beacon, others said they had come from New Paltz, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Cold Spring, Rockland County and elsewhere to weigh in, with most favoring the resolution.

In a statement on Wednesday, Brent Spodek, the rabbi of the Beacon Hebrew Alliance, said he and other residents had formed a group called the Hudson Valley Lasting Peace Coalition to advocate the addition to the resolution of acknowledgments of the Oct. 7 attack and Israeli hostages.

“We’re so grateful that the council listened to our feedback,” he said. “That said, this process did absolutely nothing for the people suffering in Gaza and Israel and did real damage to our community here.”

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. Odd that The Current quotes Rabbi Brent at length and not anyone in favor of the resolution. And you accorded him an opinion piece in the newspaper but not to anyone in favor of the resolution.

    1. “At length” better describes the thousands of words of comments we have posted from residents who supported or opposed the resolution. I invited Rabbi Brent and Kamel Jamal in December to submit My View columns with their personal views on the Middle East conflict, believing them to be community leaders; Kamel said he would think about it and Brent responded when the ceasefire resolution was introduced in the City Council. I don’t want to turn the My View column into a tit-for-tat about this issue; readers are welcome to respond by posting a comment if they feel they have something to add.

  2. Now that the Beacon City Council has decided to get into international politics, how about a resolution condemning the Russian invasion, bombing and killing in Ukraine, and the indiscriminate murder of Ukrainian civilians?

  3. How about the City Council pass a resolution to add sidewalks to Washington Avenue and Depuyster Avenue so people walking there don’t get run over by drivers who think 50 mph to 60 mph is the speed limit? Start to focus on the residents of Beacon instead of this silliness with global issues you can’t control.

  4. Without taking a side on the cease-fire resolution, why are people who live outside of Beacon addressing City Council meetings? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for them to urge their own municipalities to take, or not take, action?

  5. Your article did a good job of capturing the level of acrimony at this meeting, and in the larger community, that has arisen because the Beacon City Council chose to take on this contentious issue for which it was wholly unqualified and unprepared.

    The resolution that passed is pointless — it’s the equivalent of commanding a dog to “sit” when it’s already sitting down. The Biden administration has been working to facilitate a bilateral negotiated cease-fire for months (and it is worth noting that Israel has agreed to terms, while Hamas has rejected them). The only thing this resolution “achieved” is taking an extremely divisive topic and forcing Beacon neighbors to fight over it.

    The terrible irony is that the vast majority of those who opposed the resolution, myself included, desperately want peace. We just didn’t want our local elected officials to make fools of themselves trying to sort out one of the most intractable foreign policy issues of our times, while also writing into law a resolution that would contribute to a larger movement of delegitimizing the one Jewish country in the entire world.

    We had proposed that, instead of a resolution, the Beacon government facilitate dialogue in the community. The council seems to think that the resolution should come first, and then dialogue. I am waiting to see if it will follow up on that promise, or if it’s simply hoping that it “solved” things and can move on.

  6. Since Oct. 7, Israel has bombed Gaza to smithereens, killing more than 33,000 people — 14,000 of whom are children. Over 100,000 people have been wounded, including tens of thousands who are now amputees, and 1.9 million people displaced. Israel’s brutal onslaught has targeted journalists, aid workers, medical professionals, artists, poets, academics, scientists, mothers, fathers and families.

    Early on in the war, Israel — which controls Gaza’s borders, including land, sea and air — shut off water, fuel and electricity to the population and stopped aid trucks from entering Gaza. Even when a few aid trucks were allowed inside, many have been bombed, the latest instance last week when seven volunteers from World Central Kitchen were targeted in three instances by Israel, even though they were in a “safe zone” and after they had given the Israeli army their locations.

    Due to Israel’s constant air strikes and blockade of food and aid, Gaza is close to or already experiencing a famine, according to many organizations including, Oxfam, the UN and even the US State Department.

    And yet, while the International Court of Justice has found probable cause that Israel’s actions are causing a genocide, while many countries have spoken out against Israel’s extreme actions in Gaza, have restored funding to UNRWA (after the U.S., egged on by Israel and weak reporting by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, withdrew its much-needed support to this vital aid organization), have recalled their ambassadors from Israel — the U.S. continues to send weapons and bombs to Israel while drawing no red lines.

    In press conferences we watch Biden’s spokesperson, John Kirby, his mouth taut as he forces out ludicrous explanations of Israel’s brutal actions, anything to avoid saying ‘We condemn.’ It’s only when non-Palestinian WCK aid workers are murdered by Israel, a global outcry erupts, and the U.S. finally responds by telling Israel to let aid trucks into Gaza. For six months, the U.S. has explained away the brutality, while sloppily air-dropping TV dinners on the heads of starving people. And all along, the U.S. could have just picked up the phone.

    The last six months have revealed so much. It has outed the brutality of the Israeli regime—that it would rather take this opportunity to destroy Gaza in order to re-occupy it instead of using diplomacy to bring back the Israeli hostages still in captivity. It’s revealed how extreme the Israeli government is, how arrogant and incompetent but fully funded their military is, how the ultra-right wing viewpoint — at one point a minority, fringe mentality — has seeped into mainstream Israel. It has exposed the hypocrisy of the U.S. in its protection of Israel by any means necessary — even when all signs point to egregious human rights violations the US would have absolutely and vociferously condemned had they been perpetrated by any other nation.

    Locally, the last six months have revealed how a diverse community can come together when they are united in their rage and sadness over the injustices being carried out in another country using bombs funded by our tax money. As a Palestinian it has been excruciating to watch the annihilation of my people. But during this time the people I have met through our unified work on the ceasefire resolution has provided so much solace. It has been so heartening to meet people who are Jewish, non-Palestinians, non-Arab and otherwise without an obvious stake in this situation—except that they are outraged that this genocide is being carried out backed by the complicity and funding of the US.

    What is happening in Gaza is a local issue. Bringing this issue to our City Council was the right move, especially considering the stubborn alignment of our president and Congress with Israel when 70 percent of the country is calling for a ceasefire. Change happens even at the local level when our leaders are brave enough to use their platform to speak out — and speak up — to our higher elected leaders who seem to have lost their way (or are being paid to). I am proud to live in a city with a community and City Council that used conviction to rise to this moment in history, a positive turning point in an otherwise dark hour.

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