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Dozens ask Little Rock City Board to support ceasefire in Gaza

Supporters ask the Little Rock City Board to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Maggie Ryan
Little Rock Public Radio
Supporters ask the Little Rock City Board to pass a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Dozens of people came to a Little Rock City Board of Directors meeting Tuesday to ask city officials to support a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. Supporters identified themselves as Christian, Muslim, and Jewish, all calling for peace in a conflict that has killed over 40,000 people in the last six months.

Stephanie Gray is an organizer with Little Rock Peace for Palestine, an organization raising awareness about Palestinian and Israeli suffering in the Middle East. Gray says they’re tired of losing Israeli and Palestinian friends to the violence.

“With each day we are risking losing over one hundred hostages that are still being held hostage. We are losing religious sites, hospitals, schools, homes. The enormity of this loss is incomprehensible.” Gray told city directors. “It is clear there is no military solution to what is happening in Gaza.”

As Gray spoke, audience members rose to stand behind them.

Samar Abunasrah is a Palestinian teenager living in Little Rock. She describes herself as a “fifth-generation refugee” who has never met family in Palestine because of travel restrictions. Abunasrah told the board she feels unsafe because of her identity.

“I see people celebrating around the world celebrating the lands of their ancestors while my land is facing a genocide. I do not feel safe as a Palestinian. I wish I did. I’m scared to speak up because of the hatred I’ve seen. I’m scared of being kicked out of school exclusively for standing up for humanity.”

After the meeting, Abunasrah told Little Rock Public Radio she felt proud for speaking up.

Former Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen is a pastor of New Millennium Church in Little Rock. He says Little Rock has the opportunity to be a leader in calling for peace.

Griffin compared the call for a ceasefire to the call to end segregation.

“We are known around the world as a place where nine brave children, teenagers, led by two black people, L.C. and Daisy Bates, challenged an entire empire of segregation led by a governor. If nine children could do it in 1957, our city could do it in 2024.”

Israel declared war on Hamas after the October 7 attacks killed around 1,200 Israelis and saw over 200 others taken hostage. In the six months since, over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed. The ongoing crisis has sparked repeated calls for a ceasefire from humanitarian organizations.

Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly listed the number of Israelis killed on October 7th.

Maggie Ryan is a reporter and local host of All Things Considered for Little Rock Public Radio.
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