By Jane Stoever
On Nov. 8, KC Tenants and Al-Hadaf KC cosponsored a rally to seek Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II’s signature on the US House Ceasefire Now Resolution, to stop the war between Hamas and Israel. The action was planned to occur in Cleaver’s office at 4101 Martin Luther King Blvd., but the staff did not open the doors. So the group instead held a news conference, with six or more media already present, in the building’s lobby.
That afternoon, KC Tenants texted a “HUGE shout-out to the crew who pulled off the Cleaver office action” and said thanks to the 35+ participants “who attended and held the righteous powerful connected space.” The protesters released a letter to Cleaver signed by some 30 area social justice groups, including PeaceWorks, asking him to seek an end to Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
Tommy, who serves on the PeaceWorks KC Board and was part of the sit-in in the lobby, said after the gathering, “We tried to get Rev. Cleaver’s attention, but he did his best to ignore us even though we are his constituents.” The group’s message, said Tommy, was, “Stop giving bombs to Israeli Zionists so they can commit genocide. … Cleaver and his people are hiding from this issue, hiding from making any explanation of why it’s a good idea to drop bombs on children in their quest to stop terrorism.”
Tommy and two others from the PeaceWork Board—Kimmy Igla and Ann Suellentrop—were also part of the action. The group’s speakers included Ann. “I speak as a pediatric nurse who has spent 45 years caring for children here in Kansas City,” Ann said at the press conference. “I am calling for an immediate ceasefire to protect the lives of all, but especially the children, babies, and pregnant women of Gaza! What is going on in Gaza is an absolute war crime! It is pure evil!” She warned that the children, babies, and babies in the womb who manage to survive starvation, diseases, and trauma “will surely be damaged physically and mentally for the rest of their lives.” She concluded, “I plead with you, Rep. Cleaver, I beg you, I demand that you vote for a ceasefire! Stop the slaughter of innocents!”
Al-Hadaf KC leader Fatima Mohammadi insisted during the press conference, “Those who should be brokers of peace have greeted with disdain calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities. This, in effect, gives a green light to Israel to act with full impunity, exacerbating an unprecedented humanitarian crisis born of 17 years of siege and numerous major military assaults.”
—Jane Stoever is a writer for PeaceWorks KC. ©2023, Ann Suellentrop, Jane Stoever, Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 4.0 International License.