Protesters who were against Israel’s military offensive in Gaza found themselves in a confrontation with Washington police on Thursday. The demonstrators on Capitol Hill said the police had forcibly broken up a nonviolent demonstration. Washington Police Accused of Violence by Protesters Calling for Gaza Ceasefire
The protest organizers, Ceasefire Now Coalition, claim that some ninety activists were hurt in the altercations. The demonstrations outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) offices the night before culminated in altercations.
The coalition alleges that officers wearing riot gear kicked, pulled hair, pepper sprayed, and carried volunteer’s downstairs. They charged that the policemen disregarded the rules set up for nonviolent rallies, including neglecting to communicate with the rally’s designated police liaison representative or issue dispersal notices.
The police retorted that the group was everything but peaceful and that six policemen needed medical attention for injuries they had sustained from being attacked and pepper sprayed. Authorities said that a protester, 24, had been taken into custody for allegedly hitting and slamming a female cop in the face and breaking into a garage. The demonstrators were also charged by the police with obstructing entrances by shifting trash.
We have managed hundreds of nonviolent protests, according to the police statement, but the group who protested last night wasn’t. We gave the mob legal instructions to retreat from the DNC, as Congress members were within the structure, but they disobeyed them. The group pepper-sprayed our officers, moved dumpsters in front of the exits, and tried to take the bike rack. Our teams swiftly implemented consequences, forcing the group to leave the building, pushing them back, and removing them from the area so that the staff and members could safely evacuate.
The demonstration adhered to the nonviolent traditions set out by the US civil rights struggle, according to its organizers, three socialist organizations: Jewish Voice for Peace, If Not Now, and the Democratic Socialists of America. But the fights on Wednesday brought to light the mounting discontent over Israel’s military response to the Hamas raid last month, which resulted in over 1,200 fatalities and the kidnapping of 240 more.
The group refuted claims of police brutality during a video news conference, presenting video evidence they insisted exclusively included violent conduct by policemen. In addition, they charged that Congressmen were disseminating misleading information about the organization by implying that it supported Hamas, even though the group denounced antisemitism and the Hamas attack. They specifically targeted Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, and California Senator Brad Sherman, a Democrat.
Congressman Sherman and Senator Rubio are disseminating incredibly dangerous and careless misinformation about our non-violent movement, according to Eva Borgwardt, the coalition’s national spokeswoman for If Not Now. At the protest, the cops were the only ones I observed employing violence.
Ceasefire in Israel’s Gaza War:
The vigil, according to Dani Noble of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, was planned to pressure Democratic legislators in attendance at a DNC headquarters event to address the views of eighty percent of the party’s supporters nationwide who favor a ceasefire in Israel’s Gaza war. While disputing reports that the activists tried to storm the building, she clarified that their goal was to make it possible for elected officials to interact with the demonstrators.
We were waiting for Democratic politicians to arrive while we sang and chanted. She informed reporters that nobody had ever attempted to enter the building.
Other civil disobedience actions in Washington, like demonstrations outside the White House and on Capitol Hill, have been coordinated by the Ceasefire Now Coalition. These were peaceful events, although they resulted in several arrests.
Disappointed with the police’s response, Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg of the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical council said, we were so clear why we were there [last night]. All of the people had on ‘Ceasefire Now’ T-shirts. For the past month, we have been singing these songs. They understood exactly why we were there. When a dispersal order was issued, the police had all they needed to safely and nonviolently remove protesters from our peacefully sat position, linked arms with banners. Instead, they choose to hit, pepper spray, and push and shove others. Last night, the police decided not to employ the means at their disposal to deal with peaceful civil disobedience.