Ten weeks ago, I wrote of a November 4 protest at the White House in which a pro-Hamas mob “cursed the U.S. president, waved the flag of a foreign adversary, and endeavored to breach the White House compound.” No one was held accountable for that vile display of hate and anti-Semitism, even from the president ostensibly committed to the extermination of these evils. So, in the least surprising development ever, the pro-terrorism protest happened again this Saturday, only bigger and bolder — and again with no consequences.
This weekend’s protest imitated the earlier one in many respects: a large crowd assembled in Freedom Plaza before moving over to the White House and attempting to scale the fence. Again, rallygoers — including not only Arabs, but white college students, black race activists, and red communists — donned the black-and-white Palestinian keffiyeh scarf. Again, they left behind a mess of trash and graffiti in Lafayette Park. Again, they chanted curses at an absent president, as well as subtle endorsements of genocide, such as “Free Palestine.” Again, they flew the flags of foreign powers inside the White House’s protective fence.
And again, all who committed lawlessness at the protest got away with it. “During the demonstration near the White House complex Jan. 13, a portion of the anti-scale fencing that was erected for the event sustained temporary damage. The issues were promptly repaired on site by U.S. Secret Service support teams,” said the Secret Service, adding that they made no arrests.
D.C. Police Chief Pamela Smith told reporters, “a majority of today’s demonstration remained peaceful,” but “there were instances of illegal and destructive behavior in Lafayette Park, including items being thrown at our officers.” Her statement did not indicate that D.C. police had made any arrests. Conservative reporter Julio Rosas, who was on the scene, posted on X/Twitter, “I did not personally see anyone get arrested outside the White House tonight.”
The sizable crowd — reported at anywhere from “tens of thousands” to “400,000” — overflowed Freedom Plaza, east of the White House, as buses arrived from 20 states to swell the crowd for the post-lunch rally. Organizers pompously dubbed the gathering, “The March on Washington for Gaza,” a nod to the famous Civil Rights-era event during which — unlike Saturday’s protest — the attendees actually marched to Washington on their own two legs. At around 2 p.m., an Islamic call to prayer, in Arabic, was played over loudspeakers at the park, which sits on Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.
Attendees smothered the event in hundreds of Palestinian flags, including one apparently larger than my house. Other flags spotted at the event include the Islamic Jihadist flag, used by U.S.-designated foreign terrorists organizations, and the national flags of Egypt (the Gaza Strip’s other neighbor), Yemen (where the Iran-backed Houthis are based), South Africa (which, despite its own history of apartheid, accused Israel of genocide before the International Court of Justice), and Tunisia (which recently considered a bill to criminalize normalizing relations with Israel).
Of course, the Progress Pride flag flew there, too, right under the flag of Palestine, where the powers that be would likely kill and torture anyone who identified as any sort of LGBTQ identity. Meanwhile, the Party for Socialism and Liberation (a communist party) sponsored a banner that read, “End all U.S. funding for Israeli apartheid.”
Just before 3 p.m., the crowd began to assemble for a march on 14th Street NW, exiting Freedom Plaza from its northwest corner. At 4 p.m., the protestors began a half-circuit of the White House complex, heading north on 14th Street NW, then west on K Street NW, then south on 17th Street NW, before finally arriving at the northeast corner of the White House complex around 4:50 p.m. A large number of protestors eventually filled Pennsylvania Avenue and the adjacent Lafayette Square.
The only known arrest associated with Saturday’s demonstration occurred along the march route. On 14th Street NW, between H Street and I Street, a man brandished a knife at the head of the march. One protestor quickly disarmed him, and police took him into custody. It seems implausible that the knife-wielding man was present to attend the protest. The man’s attire (bright orange jacket and dayglow-yellow hat and gloves) and his behavior are more consistent with a mentally unstable member of D.C.’s population, many of whom congregate in Franklin Park, a block from the incident. If so, then his arrest was a sad, bizarre intrusion of D.C.’s ordinary affairs into this national protest.
Ironically, the protestors had no problem with D.C. police closing the route of their march to vehicular traffic. Thousands of protestors walked right past scores of uniformed officers without so much as an insult. Yet after hours of such peaceful cooperation — or at least co-existence — within 15 minutes of arriving at the White House, the protestors were attempting to break through barricades.
By 5:02 p.m., conservative journalist Wid Lyman reported, “Protestors are shaking the outer fence at the White House.” At 5:16 — when it was still not quite dark — Rosas concurred, “Palestinian protesters aggressively shake and hit the security fence outside the White House.”
During the next half hour, the number of protestors swelled as more marchers completed their trek. Protestors lit flares in the colors of the Palestinian flag, draped Palestinian flags and keffiyehs on the statues of Lafayette Square, graffitied public property, and threw “bloody baby dolls” over the White House fence. They began throwing other items, too: water bottles, rocks, even staves broken off from the flags they carried.
As protestors continued to hit and rattle the security fence, they took to chanting, “Break it down!” Now, both their actions and their words declared their desire to breach the White House’s perimeter. Rosas reported at 6:13, “Palestinian protesters have shaken the fence so hard that they have moved portions of it back.” In an improvement upon the previous protest, this time the Secret Service had installed a second, temporary fence, comprised of heavy metal screens that locked together. Unlike the permanent fence, this one was not anchored to the ground.
The tensest moment came around 6:45 p.m., when protestors shook the fence so violently that they managed to partially dis-attach one section of the temporary fence at the top. As the crowd chanted, “Free Palestine” and rattled the fence in a terrible clanging, another conservative journalist, Mark Naughton, captured the moment on video in real-time, from the thick of the fray.
Secret Service agents — who had already donned riot gear — rushed to repair the fence. Protestors predicted they were about to be pepper-sprayed as officers shook up cans in preparation. At least one officer had to climb a ladder by the wildly swinging fence to secure it. “Police were not able to fix the broken fence and had to attach makeshift clamps,” reported Lyman. As officers reattached the fence, the crowd booed and began shouting, “Shame on you!”
Although the situation was quickly resolved, it did alarm the Secret Service, prompting them to order a partial evacuation of the White House. “As a precaution, some members of the media and staff in proximity to Pennsylvania Avenue were temporarily relocated while the issue was being addressed,” said the Secret Service.
The near-breach in the security perimeter might have prompted Secret Service to call in reinforcements. About 15 minutes later, more police officers appeared and dispersed the crowd. By 7:43, all that was left were the items thrown from the crowd.
The massive protest received strikingly light media attention. “I saw no obvious MSM yesterday in DC covering the massive protest,” wrote Naughton. “Some well equipped media maybe MSM (no affiliation hats or jackets) at the literal start line of the March but by the second block, all were gone. When some protesters became aggressive at the White House, only @Julio_Rosas11 and @Wid_Lyman and a few unknown media remained.”
Rosas echoed the sentiment, describing the media’s response as “passive coverage, instead of an outrage cycle.”
There were a couple stories, such as this one by PBS, but they contain little firsthand reporting of the actual riot. This, despite the fact that White House reporters were evacuated when the fence was breached; the mainstream media was situated inside the barricades, not in the crowd.
Two conversations captured during the fracas demonstrate that the protestors themselves knew that their actions were 1) not peaceful and 2) not going to change anyone’s mind. Unfortunately, some of the exchange was inaudible, but the rest is a profound denunciation of the protestors’ tactics and motivations.
In one exchange, a protestor standing by the fence asked the one standing next to him, who was shaking it with all his might, “What is the point of this [rattling fence]? [inaudible] for our point to get across?” “Yes, yes,” the other replied. “Honestly, how old are you? What’s going to happen? Do you think now he’s [Biden] going to change his mind, because you’ve proved to him that Palestine is [inaudible]?”
Afterward, another protestor exhorted those shaking the fence, “Why are we doing this? Let’s do this s*** right, bro.” Someone asked him, “Okay, what is ‘right’?” He replied, “‘Right’ is doing it peacefully, singing our songs, and doing our dances.” Those around him called him a crude name and then ignored his advice.
The fringe-left street activists aren’t alone. Employees of as many as 22 federal agencies, including the Executive Office of the President, the National Security Agency, the Departments of State, Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Naval Research Laboratory, planned to participate in an illegal strike on Tuesday, organized by an anonymous group calling itself “Feds United for Peace.” They planned to observe a “Day of Mourning,” as Tuesday is the 100th day since Hamas’s terror attack. However, their plans came to nothing, as all federal offices in the D.C. area were closed anyway due to a winter storm.
Somehow — does it have to do with the dissidents within the system? — the Left’s constant pressure on Biden is having an effect on his foreign policy. Although the majority of Americans supports Israel and is disgusted by the Left’s uncivilized street demonstrations, the Biden administration is heeding its warnings, ratcheting up pressure on Israel as the radical Left turns up the heat on the White House. “The president’s patience is running out” on Israel’s war in Gaza, an anonymous official told Axios on Sunday. Several weeks ago, Biden abruptly hung up on Netanyahu after a tense exchange.
After his administration has done everything possible to slow down Israel’s war and making its task harder, Biden is now annoyed with Israel that it hasn’t won yet. Or, perhaps more correctly, Biden is channeling the anger of those who are annoyed that Israel fought back at all after Hamas’s October 7 terror attack. Meanwhile, Israel’s surrounding enemies have no desire for peace and continue to attack, with a Hezbollah rocket attack killing more Israelis on Tuesday.
In addition, the U.S. military’s passive response to provocations have emboldened other Iranian proxies in the Middle East to conduct bolder attacks. As of Thursday, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen had launched 27 attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, in addition to a number of missiles aimed at Israel. On January 9, they escalated the situation even further by directly attacking U.S. military ships. “These attacks have endangered U.S. personnel, civilian mariners, and our partners, jeopardized trade, and threatened freedom of navigation,” complained Biden. “More than 2,000 ships have been forced to divert thousands of miles to avoid the Red Sea — which can cause weeks of delays in product shipping times.”
In response, the U.S. finally launched retaliatory strikes against the Houthis on Thursday and Friday.
The pro-terrorism protestors outside the White House had this message for American forces trying to keep the world’s most important shipping lane open for business: “Hands off Yemen.” Wouldn’t that be nice, if we could do so?
On Sunday, the Houthis launched an anti-ship cruise missile towards a U.S. Navy ship it was capable of sinking. Fortunately, the ship survived, but the terrorist group has now made its intentions to kill U.S. servicemembers plain. The U.S. responded with a third strike against Yemeni targets on Tuesday. Meanwhile, on Thursday U.S. Navy SEALs captured a small boat that was smuggling missile parts from Iran to Yemen. Two men went missing during that mission, possibly drowned.
In light of these tense and dangerous developments in the Middle East, why would President Biden listen to the opinions of a fringe element that embraces anti-Semitism, alienates the public, and obviously hates America? Perhaps it’s because he needs their votes in November. Biden’s approval rating sank to an all-time low of 33%, while 58% disapprove in a recent ABC News/IPSOS poll. Biden now has the lowest approval rating of any president since George W. Bush in 2006-2008. So, the radical Left can continue their pro-terrorism protests, rattling Biden’s cage in the most literal sense, and expect no consequences.
Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand. All rights reserved.
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