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Protestors gathered outside Hart Senate Office Building on Dec. 11, 2023. Kaishi Chhabra/ҹֱ

Dozens arrested in Capitol protest demanding ceasefire amid Israel-Hamas conflict

The protests coincided with renewed Congressional negotiations on a comprehensive aid package to Israel.

U.S. Capitol Police arrested 49 protestors for illegally demonstrating inside a congressional building Monday morning. The protestors had gathered to voice their demands for a ceasefire amid the Israel-Hamas war. 

Over 60 protestors, predominantly pro-Palestinian, entered the Hart Senate Office Building wearing masks and displayed banners reading “Love People, Choose Life.”

“I’m here in solidarity with people in Gaza who are suffering every day while we beg for a ceasefire,” Fatima Saleh, a 23-year-old Virginia resident, said, who was protesting outside the building.

In an emailed statement, the director of communications for USCP, Tim Barber, told ҹֱ that just after 10 a.m., a group of people started illegally protesting inside the building. The participants were arrested under D.C. code 22–1307, which prohibits crowding, obstructing, or incommoding.

The protests come after the United Nations failed to pass a resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed the resolution, causing international concern and prompting calls for a global strike for Gaza. Activists urged individuals worldwide to abstain from economic activities, travel, and school attendance, redirecting efforts to engage with political leaders and join protests.

“We cannot support genocide of my people,” Saleh said. “As an American citizen, it’s enraging to me that my country vetoed the ceasefire calls,” Saleh said.

One protester climbed the iconic “Mountains and Clouds” sculpture by Alexander Calder, drawing attention and initiating intervention by police and firefighters. Barber said the individual was arrested separately under a code for resisting arrest.

Image source: Chuck Modiano on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Image source: Sam Lisker on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A woman was also arrested for resisting arrest, according to Barber’s emailed statement.

Congress is set to resume negotiations this week on an aid package that includes aid to both Israel and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian aid for Gaza, adding a layer of complexity to an already charged situation.

“This is honestly so demoralizing that we have to take extreme actions to get attention, and still, they are just continuing to negotiate instead of actually taking action to help innocent civilians in Gaza,” said Amal Al-Natsheh, a DC resident. 

Al-Natsheh said he witnessed a group of protesters walk into the congressional building in the morning while he stayed on the sidelines outside the building. Not long after, Natsheh said he witnessed tens of protestors arrested via zip ties being led out. 

Protestors gathered outside the Hart Senate Office Building on Dec. 11, 2023. Kaishi Chhabra/ҹֱ

Many protestors cleared the premises following the mass arrest, leaving a handful of protestors peacefully demonstrating outside the building’s entrance.

Organized by groups such as the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, and About Face: Veterans Against the War, the protest highlighted the contentious debate surrounding U.S. support in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

 

Kaishi Chhabra

Kaishi is a multimedia journalist specializing in political and human rights reporting. Having a diverse cultural and global background, she is especially interested in amplifying the voices of marginalized communities such as women of color and LGBTQIA+ groups. Kaishi is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Journalism at The American University.

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