A large group of protestors entered the Cannon House office building Wednesday demanding an Israeli ceasefire, resulting in several arrests, Capitol Police said, APA reports citing The Hill.
Three of the protesters were later charged with “Assault on a Police Officer during processing,” U.S. Capitol Police said in a post on X, formerly called Twitter.
“Demonstrations are not allowed inside Congressional Buildings,” Capitol Police said in a post earlier in the day. “We warned the protestors to stop demonstrating and when they did not comply we began arresting them.”
The protest, organized jointly by the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and IfNotNow, began at noon in front of the Capitol. Demonstrators urged Congress take action toward a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.
The Biden administration has largely defended Israel’s retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza, after Hamas militants carried out a massacre of Israeli civilians earlier this month. But progressives in Congress have increased pressure on President Biden to urge restraint from Israel as the death toll in the Gaza Strip mounts.
“The root of violence is oppression, and we’re here to say no in our names,” Jewish Voice for Peace posted on X. “We have the power to stop the ongoing atrocities against Palestinians. We refuse to standby as the Israeli government commits genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.”
Protestors inside the Cannon Rotunda chanted “ceasefire now,” holding banners with the same message.
Capitol Police did not confirm the number of arrests made, but posted on X at 4:04 p.m. that road closures and arrests were ongoing.
Outside of the Capitol, a large crowd gathered to “support those getting arrested on the inside.” The total number of protestors has not been determined, but JVP posted on X that there are 10,000 protestors outside the Capitol building and 500 more “are inside to demand an end to the Israeli and U.S. government’s genocide in Gaza.”
Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who have been calling on Biden to work toward an immediate ceasefire, spoke to the crowd of demonstrators before they entered the Capitol Building.
“I wish all the Palestinian people would see this. I wish they could see that not all of America want them to die. That they are not disposable, that they have a right to live,” said Tlaib, the only current Palestinian-American member of Congress.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) posted online in support of the protestors. “Solidarity with those mobilizing and demanding a #CeasefireNOW to save lives,” she said on X.
Several protesters criticized Biden’s handling of the conflict as well as his trip to Israel on Wednesday, in which he voiced solidarity with Israel as it responds to the attack by Hamas.
“He is pouring fuel on the fire,” protester Anna Escobar said. “He is giving the weapons that are killing Palestinians.”
Approximately 300 people were arrested by Capitol Police during a large-scale demonstration on Wednesday against the Israel-Hamas war, a Capitol Police spokesperson said.
Most were arrested for demonstrating in the Capitol, according to the spokesperson.
Hundreds of people had gathered in and outside of the U.S. Capitol complex on Wednesday before the arrests, calling for an end to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian militant group that launched a terror attack in Israel earlier this month.
Some of the demonstrators, organized by a left-wing Jewish group, then entered the Cannon House Office Building at different security entrance points and assembled in the rotunda, the police spokesperson said.
The large-scale demonstration follows a similar event at the White House earlier this week that also resulted in dozens of arrests.
Protesters, like the rest of the public, can legally enter the Capitol complex and only risk issues when they cause a disturbance, according to the police spokesperson.