Protestors calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war forced top House Democrats to evacuate the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington D.C. on Wednesday night after violent clashes with law enforcement occurred.
About 10 Democrats were in the DNC headquarters when violence between protestors and law enforcement sparked. These members included House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-MA), and Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), among others.
According to CNN, six officers were injured after the clash turned violent. One person was arrested. A source also told CNN that more people should have been arrested. However, police instead focused on holding the police line, which is why only one person was arrested. This person was arrested for reportedly punching a female officer.
In a statement, USCP stated that the protestors that congregated in front of the DNC headquarters were not peaceful. Reportedly, protestors blocked exits of the building by moving dumpsters in front of them. USCP also stated that protestors allegedly pepper-sprayed police officers.
U.S. Capitol Police explained that about 150 protestors were “illegally and violently protesting.” However, activist groups who organized the protests disputed this claim.
Earlier on Wednesday, a march at Freedom Plaza was also organized by activists to demand a ceasefire and support Palestinian civilians in Gaza. This march saw no violence or disturbances.
This latest violent clash is the most recent indication of strong tensions in the United States over the handling of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Two days before, a pro-Israel gathering at the National Mall was organized. This gathering saw both Democrats and Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA), arrive.
This gathering is believed to be the largest pro-Israel rally ever held in the United States.
Right now our officers are working to keep back approximately 150 people who are illegally and violently protesting in the area of Canal Street and Ivy Street, SE. Officers are making arrests. All Members have been evacuated from the area. Please stay away from the area. pic.twitter.com/qHcpyYexjm
— The U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) November 16, 2023
Beth Miller, the political director of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, released a statement explaining that protestors went to the DNC to demand a ceasefire in Gaza to save innocent people.
Miller went on to criticize the police, stating that the protestors weren’t violent, as the police said they were. “They were met with brutal assaults by the police,” she said. “The Democrats need to decide: will they stand on the side of peace and justice, or will they continue to support war and genocide?”
Meanwhile, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) told CNN that he was one of the Democrats evacuated from the DNC headquarters. When asked about the protests turning violent, Sherman criticized the protestors.
Sherman compared the reportedly violent protest with the pro-Israel rally. He said that the Wednesday night protest is only getting attention because of “their willingness to attack police.”