Protesters shout ‘shame on you’ after council votes against Gaza ceasefire

By Robert Firth, Local Democracy Reporter 

Angry pro-Palestine protesters were escorted out of a town hall chamber shouting ‘shame on you’ after a council voted against calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The group stood up and unfurled Palestinian flags in the public gallery at a Lambeth council meeting on Wednesday evening (January 24) after Labour councillors voted against a motion brought by the Green Party calling for ‘an immediate ceasefire and the end to human rights atrocities in the Israel/Palestine conflict’.

Two Labour councillors, Cllr Martin Abrams, member for Streatham St Leonard’s, and Cllr Sonia Winifred, member for Knight’s Hill ward, rebelled to join Green Party councillors Nicole Griffiths and Scott Ainslie in voting in favour of the motion.

Protesters hold a banner which reads ‘Southwark and Lambeth for Palestine’ outside Lambeth Town Hall last night (Picture: Robert Firth)

Matthew Bryant, Liberal Democrat member for Streatham Hill West and Thornton, also voted in favour of the motion, which asked Labour leader of the council Claire Holland to write to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, urging them to call for a ceasefire.

Cllr Claire Holland scowled and shook her head at the protesters as Mayor Sarbaz Barznji ordered the meeting of full council to be suspended for 10 minutes while the demonstrators were removed. Deputy council leader Danny Adilypour appeared to take a video of the demonstrators on his phone.

Before the meeting began, Lambeth Labour released a statement accusing the Green Party of ‘creating division’ within communities in the borough with the motion. The statement said the motion ‘set a false narrative that Lambeth council – a civic institution – has the power or influence to affect an international conflict’.

The crowd calls out “shame on you” after the council voted against a ceasefire in Gaza (Picture: Robert Firth)

It continued: “The Labour Party has called for a humanitarian truce now. Not as a short pause, but as the first step that will stop the killing of innocents, provide urgent humanitarian relief, free hostages and provide the space for a sustainable ceasefire so that fighting does not restart.”

Ahead of the council meeting, pro-Palestine protesters gathered outside Lambeth Town Hall in Brixton, some waving Palestinian flags and holding placards reading ‘Stop Israel’s War Crimes’ and ‘Freedom to Palestine’.

Campaigners had hoped to present a speech outlining their demands at the council meeting, but had their request to present a deputation turned down on the basis that it was about an issue which the council doesn’t have responsibility for.

Speaking anonymously outside the town hall, one of the protesters, a Labour Party member, said: “We are very disappointed in the council’s reaction. They showed their support to the people of Ukraine, why can’t they show their support for the people of Gaza? We are very disappointed they refused the deputation.”

Pictured top: Pro-Palestine protesters outside Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton (Picture: Robert Firth)

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