U.S. Capitol police arrested hundreds of demonstrators after a large crowd of pro-Palestine protesters gathered inside a House of Representatives office building, refusing to leave unless lawmakers called for a ceasefire to the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.
On Wednesday, the protesters gathered at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., eventually going to the Cannon House Office Building. Several individuals wore things associated with Judaism and T-shirts that read “Not In Our Name.”
The protest was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that has accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians and opposes Zionism, a movement seeking to protect and preserve the Jewish state.
The U.S. Capitol Police issued an alert on the day of the protest, stating that demonstrations are not allowed inside congressional buildings. In a follow-up statement, USCP said it began arresting the protesters after the individuals failed to comply with multiple warnings to cease demonstrating.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, USCP monitored the situation, setting up road closures and limiting entryways and exits to Capitol staff as more protesters arrived, according to Fox 5.
The protesters taken into custody were shuttled to a temporary holding area on the Capitol complex. The authorities indicated that those who demonstrated inside the Cannon Rotunda would face charges for illegally protesting. At least three demonstrators were charged with assaulting an officer during processing, according to Fox 5.
In a Wednesday social media thread, JVP claimed that 10,000 people protested outside while 500 demonstrators were arrested to draw attention to what the group described as the United States’ “complicity” in Israel’s “ongoing oppression” of Palestinians.
“Just as we demand an end to genocide in Gaza, we must put the same effort into dismantling the systems of Zionism, apartheid, and colonialism that brought us to this moment,” JVP wrote. “The only way to peace and safety — for everyone — is through ensuring justice and equality for everyone.”
“That means standing in solidarity with Palestinians. It means building a world beyond Zionism. It means creating systems of safety through solidarity,” the group continued, calling on people to join its efforts.
Rep. Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., posted a video as he observed Wednesday’s demonstration from a separate floor, accusing the protesters of sympathizing with the Hamas terrorist group that attacked Israel earlier this month and killed more than 1,400 Israelis and at least 30 Americans.
The attack prompted retaliatory airstrikes as Israel prepares for a potential ground offensive in northern Gaza. Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza claim over 3,000 people have been killed and 12,500 injured since the airstrikes began.
Brecheen praised Rep. Brandon Williams, R-N.Y., for holding the Israeli flag as he stood on the floor above the demonstrations, claiming that he was “standing for truth.”
Before the protest inside the Cannon building, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., spoke during a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, demanding a ceasefire.
Both progressive House members were behind a Monday resolution calling on the Biden administration to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
During the rally, Tlaib repeated Hamas’ claim that Israel bombed a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday, a claim that U.S. officials discredited after assessing data from “overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information.”
Israel Defense Forces said that the airstrike appeared linked to an “errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza.”
Bush spoke after Tlaib, and, in addition to calling for a ceasefire, she called on attendees to speak out against what she described as the United States’ “complicity” in “war and violence.”
“Are you for war or against war? Are you for saving lives or against saving lives?” she asked. “The time to decide is now. Ceasefire now!”
President Joe Biden announced Wednesday that the U.S. would provide $100 million in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank, stating that the money is intended to support displaced Palestinians and address emergency needs in Gaza.
“What sets us apart from the terrorists is we believe in the fundamental dignity of every human life — Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Jew, Muslim, Christian — everyone,” Biden said. “You can’t give up what makes you who you are. If you give that up, then the terrorists win. And we can never let them win.”
The president expressed support for a two-state solution, proclaiming it is the way for Israelis and Palestinians to “both live safely, in security, in dignity, and in peace.” Biden stated that Hamas’ assault against Israel has only strengthened his determination to see a two-state solution.
“I’m here to tell you that terrorists will not win,” Biden said. “Freedom will win. So, let me end where I began. Israel, you are not alone. The United States stands with you.”
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