Organizers for Jewish Voice for Peace Action, which describes itself as the largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world and a coalition of groups, including If Not Now organized what started out as a peaceful protest outside the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee on Wednesday. The demonstrators called for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, the latest reflection of boiling tensions over the bloody conflict.
Several Democratic Congresscritters and candidates, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, were inside the building for a campaign reception when it was interrupted by chanting outside. Protesters said they wanted to block entrances and exits to force politicians to encounter their candlelight vigil and their calls for an end to the fighting. Many of them wore black shirts saying “Cease Fire Now.”
However, the situation swiftly devolved. U.S. Capitol Police said about 150 people were “illegally and violently protesting” in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington. But protesters blamed police for the violence, saying officers rushed them without warning.
Demonstration organizers said at least 100 participants suffered injuries after being pepper-sprayed and pushed by police. Six officers suffered injuries after being pepper-sprayed and punched, police said on social media.
Demonstration organizer Dani Noble disputed the police account that protesters engaged in violent activity and said that they gathered peacefully at the entrance to engage lawmakers. She said that police shoved demonstrators and pulled them away from the entrance.
One person was pushed over a railing and fell on their head, Awad said. There were multiple calls for medics, she said.