Protestors Decrying Gaza Conflict Stage Demonstration in Cannon Building
WASHINGTON — A large group protesting the ongoing war in Gaza entered the House Cannon Office Building Wednesday afternoon and were arrested after they refused to stop demonstrating inside the Cannon Rotunda.
Demonstrations are not allowed inside congressional buildings, and the arrests began after U.S. Capitol Police warned the protestors that what they were doing was against the law.
More than 1,500 protestors had been gathered on the National Mall all afternoon, many of them carrying signs that said, “Free Palestine,” “Genocide is not self-defense,” “End the Israeli Occupation,” and “Respect existence or expect resistance.”
They also broke out in extended chants, the most popular seeming to be “No more weapons, no more war, ceasefire is what we’re calling for.”
Hours before the protest got under way, one could already tell Capitol Police were bracing for something. A fence bearing signs that read, “Police Line Do Not Cross” ringed the perimeter of the Capitol compound and tourists were largely kept at a distance.
Demonstrators began marching up Independence Avenue between the Capitol grounds and the House office buildings in the late afternoon, causing temporary rolling road closures just ahead of the evening rush hour.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Capitol Police said a total of 308 people were arrested. Of these, 305 people were charged with illegally demonstrating. Their cases were handled as a “post and forfeit” under the law in the District of Columbia.
Under this mechanism, a person charged with a misdemeanor crime may post and simultaneously forfeit an amount of money and thereby obtain a full and final resolution of the criminal charge.
“This is standard for a mass demonstration,” the spokesperson said.
The three additional people were arrested and charged with assault on a police officer during processing. They were scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.