Pro-Gaza Protesters Arrested After Disrupting House Judiciary Hearing On Free Speech And Antisemitism

Several pro-Gaza protesters were arrested on Wednesday for disrupting a House Judiciary Committee hearing about free speech on college campuses following protests in support of Gaza.

Nearly a dozen protesters, wearing keffiyeh scarves — a symbol of Palestinian liberation — and other paraphernalia, such as blood-red paint on their hands and tape over their mouths with the word “GAZA” written, sat in the galleries of the committee room at the Rayburn House Office Building on Wednesday, waiting to disrupt the hearing, where six witnesses of conservative and Jewish affiliations testified about antisemitic rhetoric at colleges. After the witnesses were sworn in, the protesters began standing up, one by one, during witnesses’ opening statements, jeering at them and members of Congress in support of Gaza, before being removed by the U.S. Capitol Police, the DCNF observed.

“Students should not be censored. You want to talk about putting money where your mouth is? There are 10,000, over 10,000, Gazans dead and more buried, half of whom are under the age of 18, and you’re going to spend money to talk about this?” screamed one protester who stood up to disrupt the testimony, holding up a sign that read “Pro-Palestine ≠ Antisemitism.” He added: “Where are the anti-Zionists in this room? So you are not offering a plurality of opinion. You are offering partisanship!”

Another protester, shortly before him, stood up to shout: “Palestinian students deserve to speak on the genocide of their family!” claiming that Israel was committing a genocide in Gaza. “Stop silencing Palestinian students!” she shrieked as she was pulled out of the room by Capitol Police, holding a sign that read “Free Speech includes Palestinians.”

At least five protesters stood up sequentially to disrupt the hearing, with Capitol Police initially giving them one warning to stop, failing which they were led out of the room and placed under arrest. The DCNF observed them being searched and led away by Capitol Police outside the chamber, during which they continued to shout and could be faintly heard from inside the chamber.

Some disruptors were mocked by members of Congress for wearing N-95 facemasks, which are used to protect against COVID-19, with the word “Gaza” on them. As the protesters stood up, others adjacent to them, who were dressed in pink bandanas with the word “Gaza” inscribed and CODEPINK shirts, representing a left-wing feminist activist group, raised their red-painted hands in support of their rhetoric.

The disruptions are part of a series of protests in the U.S. Capitol Complex and the Washington, D.C., area against lawmakers for their support of Israel in its response to the attacks by Hamas, which killed over a thousand Israelis in a gruesome manner and has resulted in a ground invasion of Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces. Some protests have involved the storming of Capitol office buildings by hundreds of people, resulting in many arrests.

Overall, ten people were arrested and charged with violations of the District of Columbia Code for “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” the hearing, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a fine of $500, the U.S. Capitol Police informed the DCNF. One person was charged with assaulting a police officer, another misdemeanor offense punishable by imprisonment of up to six months.





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