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Richmond mayor's office details support, backlash to controversial pro-Palestinian resolution

Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez stands by city's resolution supporting Palestinians in Gaza
Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez stands by city's resolution supporting Palestinians in Gaza 03:31

RICHMOND -- The office of Richmond Mayor Eduardo Martinez on Thursday told KPIX it has received an "immense" public response to the controversial resolution passed early Wednesday offering support for Palestinians in Gaza, saying the messages largely backed the resolution.

Following an hours-long debate punctuated by emotional testimony, the Richmond City Council voted 5-1 early Wednesday to approve the resolution expressing support for Palestinians.

The resolution states "The city of Richmond stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people of Gaza, who are currently facing a campaign of ethnic cleansing and collective punishment by the state of Israel."  

The language of the resolution sparked calls from Jewish leaders for people to show up at city council chambers in opposition, calling the terminology used in the resolution one-sided.

The resolution is available for the public to view online.  

In the end, only one council member agreed with that position. Cesar Zepeda said he supports a free Palestine, but says the resolution should've been revised to focus on bringing both the Palestinian and Israeli communities together.

"While most messages have been concentrated in Richmond and the wider Bay Area, we are certainly receiving messages from across the country as well," the mayor's office said in an email Thursday. "We haven't done a formal tally yet, but our office estimates that support has outweighed opposition significantly."

However, the office noted that there were some messages that expressed opposition to the resolution that used language that was "graphic," violent and profane.

"The Mayor's Office has received many emails and calls characterizing him and the Council Nazis, supporters of terrorism, and anti-Semitic. We have also begun to receive messages saying that the Mayor supported those who caused 9/11. One councilmember has been accused of supporting the resolution because she is Middle Eastern," said a spokesperson for Martinez. "We would characterize these instances as inappropriate."

On a more positive note, the mayor's office said it "has received many emails and calls thanking Richmond for this resolution, mostly notably from Palestinians who express feeling seen for the first time." Some of those responses from Richmond residents of Palestinian descent said they mentioned having "family members trapped in Gaza and the West Bank who are unable to evacuate, and they have communicated to them that Richmond stands with them." 

The office said it has "also received messages from Richmond residents who are survivors of the Holocaust, children of Holocaust survivors, and Israeli citizens, who support this resolution." 

Holli Thier, a councilmember for the Marin County town of Tiburon, attempted to attended the meeting. She was one of many people who were not allowed in to express their views on the resolution after the council chamber quickly filled to capacity. 

"Eduardo Martinez will go down in history at the most anti-Semitic mayor ever," said Thier. "And he has divided not only his community, but he had made his own residents feel unsafe and unwelcome."

A few days later, KPIX caught up with Martinez as he attended a Palestinian protest rally in San Francisco to ask about the heat he has been getting due to the resolution.

"A lot of people said that putting this resolution on the agenda was divisive.  But I remind them that the division was there before that happened," explained Martinez. "And what it did was it exposed the wound that we're all sharing. And that the only way that wound can heal is by exposing it, so that we know what it is."

John Ramos contributed to this story.

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