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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Emotions run high at city council

Comments on Middle East conflict, police drones and housing
Attendees+at+the+city+council+meeting+on+Tuesday+
Molly Myers
Attendees at the city council meeting on Tuesday

Filing into the main room of the town hall, the seats were packed, with many attendees holding homemade signs. 

The meeting began with Mayor Andrew Coolidge calling for a 85-second moment of silence, one second for every life lost in the Camp Fire

What followed was a lively, contentious town council meeting with emotions running high and many attendees speaking out of turn. 

29 residents signed up to speak about issues pertaining to the conflict in the Middle East. Due to the high volume, time allotted to speakers was one minute per person. 

The first speaker, Deya Ammar, called on the town council to adopt a ceasefire ordinance for the City of Chico. A murmur of approval echoed through the crowd behind him. 

Mayor Coolidge interrupted, questioning how this matter was relevant to the town of Chico. Multiple individuals spoke out of turn, which led to Coolidge sternly warning against outbursts. As the outbursts persisted, Coolidge excused the council for an impromptu recess. 

After roughly eight minutes, the council returned and the meeting proceeded. 

Yahmo Ahqha took the stand. Ahqha is of Indigenous descent and expressed sympathy for those in Gaza facing oppression at the hands of occupation. Snaps of approval followed from other attendees, which led Coolidge to shut it down. 

“We don’t do that kind of stuff here. We don’t do applause and we don’t do snapping,” Coolidge said. 

Lana Hadeed spoke on the lack of attention given to Palestinian residents of Chico. Hadeed stated no one has reached out to check on residents at risk and that she was overcome with grief. 

“I am witnessing a genocide, our tax dollars are funding a genocide,” Hadeed said. 

Multiple students of local high schools and colleges took the stand and shared experiences of racism and harassment. Shandana Hassain reported being called a “bomber,” and urged the council to take action in order to protect students. 

Coolidge responded that issues pertaining to school settings should be addressed by the schools instead of the town. 

Rain Scher contributed a non-student take on racism in the community. Scher clarified that the city could take an official stance advocating peace for Palestinians. 

Lynn Gonzales took the stand calling for the council to adopt a resolution calling for a ceasefire. 

Mayor Coolidge stopped her, stating that she would have to keep her comments relevant to the city of Chico. When Lynn Gonzales continued to speak on conditions in Gaza, Coolidge again dismissed the council for a recess, this time for 20 minutes. 

Proclamations were made about efforts to curb homelessness and provide shelter. The council recognized that November is homeless and runaway youth awareness month

Progress on a 20-unit housing development for unhoused residents was also mentioned, which will potentially be opening soon. The Camp Fire was cited as a major factor in burgeoning homelessness.  

Ceremonial plaques were presented to various local organizations, including Legacy Stage and Music Connection

A number of residents also showed up to fight rent spikes in Chico, particularly in mobile home communities. 

Resident Ed Tietz called for rent control legislature, citing vulnerable populations who are in no position to be gouged for more money. Another man expressed that his mother, who lives in a mobile home, saw a rent increase of $150. 

A measure to provide the Chico Police with funds for drones was presented. Multiple people expressed resentment of the idea, citing excessive police force, invasive practices and noise. 

Nichole Nava took a pro-drone stance, believing they are beneficial for police safety when dealing with dangerous situations. 

Yahmo Ahqha shared his experiences with police brutality. During Ahqha’s time, councilman Sean Morgan spoke up, breaking the council’s own rules against outbursts. “I can go to a local store and buy a drone, what difference does it make,” said Morgan. 

Coolidge shut down what he referred to as “banter” and gave Ahqha an extra 20 seconds to speak. 

The city council meets on every first and third Tuesday of the month at 6pm. The council chambers are located at 421 Main Street. For more information, go here.

 

Kit Beauchamp can be reached at [email protected].

 

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About the Contributors
Kit Beauchamp
Kit Beauchamp, Reporter
Kit Beauchamp is a Communications Major at Chico State University. Originally from Fairfax, CA, he transferred to Chico from Santa Barbara City College following the Covid-19 pandemic. Kit has always been interested in writing and journalism, and this is his first semester writing for The Orion. He hopes to use his platform to give voice to all facets of the student body, shed light on interesting and relevant topics, and present the unbiased truth. In his spare time, Kit enjoys music, fried foods, run-on sentences and looking at colorful birds.    
Molly Myers
Molly Myers, Managing Editor/Features Editor
Molly Myers is a transfer student from Palmdale, California. She is a journalism major also minoring in religious studies. Molly is Managing Editor at The Orion and previously worked as Editor-in-Chief. Her work is also published in Watershed Review. Getting to meet new people and hear their stories is her favorite part of being a journalist. Outside of The Orion she instructs yoga at the WREC and volunteers with the Torres Community Shelter.

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