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Hamtramck to rename street "Palestine Avenue"

A Palestinian flag flies at an October 2023 rally in Dearborn calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Beenish Ahmed
Michigan Radio
A Palestinian flag flies at an October 2023 rally in Dearborn calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Hamtramck will rename one of its streets “Palestine Avenue” in symbolic support of the people of Gaza. Hamtramck city council members voted on the measure Tuesday night, in their final meeting of the year.

“I know it's not going to change anything, but it's just showing what Hamtramck stands for and what the community here stands for,” said Hamtramck mayor Amer Ghalib, who voted in favor of the resolution.

The measure will rename part of the current Holbrook Street, between Buffalo Street and Saint Aubin street, according to a copy of the resolution posted online before Tuesday’s meeting. The resolution states that the renaming “can serve as a symbolic gesture of remembrance and support for the people of Gaza.” But it says the renaming won’t have any actual impact on postal addresses or other “legal designations” along the street.

Council members passed the resolution narrowly on a 4-3 vote, though at least one council member stressed that his “no” vote was more about process than about opposing the intended message.

“Sometimes I have to take my stance,” said council member Abu Musa, who said he voted no because he objected to the procedure for renaming the street. “And it is nothing against the Palestinian[s], nothing against, personally, especially Mr. Mayor or any of my colleagues.”

Another council member who voted against the measure drew a connection between the street renaming and the controversial Hamtramck policy that said rainbow flags couldn’t fly at city hall in support of LGBTQ+ residents.

“It’s not anything against Palestinians. I just want to stand on the same point when we decided no other flag would fly… ” said council member Muhith Mahmood.

Hamtramck is the only city in the state where all city council members are Muslim, and it has taken a number of votes so far this year to symbolically support Palestinians in their conflict with Israel. In October, council members voted to call for an “immediate ceasefire” from Israel. And in February, Mayor Ghalib read a proclamation opposing military aid to Israel.

Following Tuesday’s vote to name “Palestine Avenue” in the city, a number of residents at the meeting applauded.

"This was very visionary,” said resident Bill Meyer. “This will start a trend hopefully. Maybe it’ll be a change. And maybe people will be freed from occupation eventually. And maybe we can celebrate and take the signs back down.”

City manager Max Garbarino said Thursday new signs to mark Palestine Avenue are currently being made. He said there isn’t a timeline yet for when the street signs will be installed.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Public’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Public since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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