Activists calling for a ceasefire in Gaza say they were attacked by police during a peaceful protest outside of the Democratic National Committee Wednesday night and rejected the characterization that the protesters were violent.
“Police violently attacked them, causing over 90 injuries, including being pepper sprayed, minor cuts, and dragged by the hair,” IfNotNow, a movement of American Jews who oppose Israel and helped organize the protest, said in a statement.
“Protesters were choked and violently handled by multiple offices at once, thrown against the wall, then grabbed and picked up and thrown down the front stairs,” the statement added. “At least two protesters’ glasses were smashed by the police.”
The Capitol Police said in a statement that six officers were treated for injuries “ranging from minor cuts to being pepper sprayed to being punched” and one protester was arrested for assaulting an officer.
The protester arrested was identified as 24-year-old New York resident Ruben Arthur Camancho, who Capitol Police say was witnessed by a female officer slamming “another officer into a garage door and then punch[ing] the female officer in the face.”
The protest occurred during a candidate event at the DNC, with multiple lawmakers including Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) present.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) called the demonstrators “pro-terrorist” and accused them of “attempting to break into the building.”
Semafor reporter David Weigel countered on X:” Sherman is wrong. I was outside the building and saw a [Capitol Police] officer spray protesters, not vice versa.”
Other lawmakers similarly put the protesters on blast.
“All U.S. House buildings locked down while Pro-Hamas rioters trying to storm the offices of the Democratic National Committee,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) said Wednesday.
Weigel once again countered that “they blocked the entrances; they didn’t try to storm the offices” and noted that some lawmakers are making “confident, wrong statements about stuff that was filmed by dozens of people.”
DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison said in a statement that he was “grateful that staff & visitors at the DNC were safely evacuated as law enforcement acted quickly to respond to protests outside our building last night.”
“As Americans we have a right to demonstrate peacefully, but violence is never acceptable,” Harrison added.
The groups that co-organized the protest slammed the characterization of the protest.
“We are horrified to see elected officials like Brad Sherman, Marco Rubio, and Speaker Mike Johnson spread misinformation and accuse Jewish activists of being ‘antisemitic’ ‘pro-Hamas,’ especially since many of our members are grieving Israeli loved ones who were killed on October 7,” IfNotNow said in a statement Thursday. “It is offensive, hurtful, and dangerous. These leaders should apologize and retract their dangerous and hurtful statements.”
“They spread misinformation about our nonviolent protest, but have nothing to say about American funding of violent Israeli bombs dropping on the children of Gaza.”
Jewish Voice for Peace Action, another co-organizer, replied to Harrison’s statement saying the demonstration was peaceful.
“As videos and photos from last night have made clear, police officers rushed at nonviolent protestors without any prior warning or requests to disperse,” the group said. “Over 90 demonstrators were injured by police violence.”