Hearings are a beautiful opportunity for community members to come together and speak truth to power about the reality of Israeli and US state violence.
Find out how the hearing process works. Are testimonies allowed? How can people sign up to testify? What is the time limit for each speaker, and for the whole hearing? Is there a speaker limit? Can speakers yield time to each other? Does the council use parliamentary process? Does passage require a simple or super majority? Are amendments allowed? Are there any other rules to know?
Meet with Councillors
Meet with councillors before the vote to make sure they are still standing strong. If they are your “champions” – i.e. supportive enough that you feel comfortable strategizing with them – you can discuss:
Their advice on a successful hearing. What have they seen work in the past? They are probably more familiar with what tone and presence would be most helpful.
What do they need from you? Can you offer them talking points beforehand, responses to expected questions and arguments, and even support in the moment?
Contingency plans. What happens if a win starts to slip away? What happens if one tiny thing is missing from or needs to be tweaked for the resolution to pass? Friendly amendments have been used in the past to strengthen a resolution so that it can pass. What contingencies can you plan for?
Outreach to Get Folks There
A strong turnout is critical to showing officials just how much support lies behind a yes vote (and how many will be disappointed with a no vote). It’s crucial to have a strong showing from movements beyond Palestine, especially if this is a campaign that impacts multiple struggles. Start outreach early and use every means you have – phone banking, text, email, Facebook events, in-person meetings, etc. – to turn people out, asking your partners to reach out to their own bases as well. Encourage a wide range of people to speak at the hearing, and offer talking points to people so they don’t have to start from scratch.
As with everything, center the voices of those most impacted by Israeli and US state violence. Don’t replicate the same dynamics – of whose voices and stories do and don’t matter – that we seek to dismantle in Palestine and the US.
Make sure to go over the media and messaging sections above for reminders on messaging, press releases (make sure you have two ready to go, one for success and another for defeat), and interviews.
Having a visible presence is an important way to illustrate your power and raise your voices, even when you are not testifying.
A vigil before the hearing can set a powerful tone, providing a compelling visual to city councillors entering the chambers, and grounding your group in the gravity of Israel’s violence that calls you to work for Palestinian liberation. You can also consider a pre-vote rally or other action to drum up excitement and attract media.
A great way to make a powerful visual to show the breadth and diversity of supporters is to give each supporter present a sign with a common refrain at the top and space below to fill out the rest. In St. Louis, campaigners had signs that said “Dump Veolia because…” with attendees filling in the bottom. In New Orleans the signs read “I Support Human Rights because…” Attendees can hold signs up at strategic moments to have their voices heard by the decision-makers and the media present.
Stoles and T-shirts, if worn by all your supporters, create an impactful visual showing your presence in every corner of the room. Buttons and stickers are good too, though they are usually too small to see from afar to project the same visual unity.
Anticipate the different scenarios that could play out and what you will do. If the vote doesn’t go the way you want, do you want to do any kind of coordinated direct action? Examples include standing up and turning your backs, walking out, breaking out in song, putting tape on your mouths, unfurling banners, mic checks, etc.
Prepare a flyer to pass out to arriving attendees to let them know how to plug in, for example how to sign up to speak, what hashtags and handles to use on social media, where to go after the vote, etc.
Documentation & Online Engagement
The world wants to follow this historic moment and you’ll want to remember it!
Pick a good hashtag and live tweet.
Livestream, or at least record. Have a tripod handy if possible!
Make sure you get at least a few great photos. These will be timeless and useful for media, other campaigns, and more. If nothing else, gather for a group photo afterward.
Preparing for hearings is a lot of work and can also be a wonderfully energizing time for your group to come together. Consider gathering a couple days before the vote to make signs; coordinate, order, and practice your testimonies (timing yourselves and giving feedback), practice interviews, divvy up remaining tasks, and make sure everyone is on the same page with the plan. Have fun and congratulate yourselves for getting this far!