Peace vigil demanding DNC call for ceasefire in Gaza violently attacked by police

Washington, DC — Washington, D.C. police violently attacked nonviolent anti-war activists at a ceasefire vigil outside a fundraiser event held by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) Wednesday evening. Wielding pepper spray and pellet guns, the police rushed members of the interfaith vigil without warning, where some activists had blocked some of the doors of the Democratic DCCC’s candidate event, asking politicians to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The activists were joined by faith leaders in calling for a ceasefire to end the Israeli military’s massacre of Palestinians, to facilitate a hostage exchange, and to ensure that humanitarian and medical aid can reach Palestinians in besieged Gaza.

As hundreds of anti-war protesters assembled with 11,000 candles and signs calling for a ceasefire, DC police, many in riot gear, rushed the candlelight vigil and attacked protesters blocking some of the entrances to the doors of the DCCC. 

According to Jeff Ordower, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, the DC police rushed the protesters without warning. “We’ve been doing actions in DC for decades, and have never had police refuse to talk to a police liaison.”

The vigil continued for 30 minutes, with participants singing Which Side Are You On and chanting Ceasefire Now! The vigil was sponsored by IfNotNow, Democratic Socialists of America and Jewish Voice for Peace Action.

“The Democratic Party just showed exactly how it feels about its voters,” said Sumaya Awad, a member of NYC-DSA. “The Israeli military just stormed a hospital in Gaza, airstrikes have killed over 4,500 children, and water is running out. Over 80% of Democratic voters are demanding a ceasefire and brought that message of peace to party leadership, who responded by unleashing an incredibly violent police attack on them.”

With every passing minute that President Biden and the Democratic Party refuse to heed the calls of their voters and demand a ceasefire, more Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli airstrikes and siege. In their homes, schools, hospitals, and mosques, and by starvation, dehydration and disease. Tonight, hundreds of peaceful anti-war activists came to the DNC to call for an end to bombs and violence in order to save Palestinian and Israeli lives. They were met with brutal assaults by the police. The Democrats need to decide: will they stand on the side of peace and justice, or will they continue to support war and genocide?

Beth Miller, Political Director, JVP Action

Every hour of this horrific bombardment, more Palestinians are killed. Every hour, the lives of the hostages hang in the balance. Every hour increases the risk of a broader regional war, endangering the lives of millions of people across the entire region. We the base of the Democratic Party are here to say if you care about Palestinians, if you care about Israelis, if you care about Jews, if you care about humanity, we need you to call for a ceasefire, a hostage exchange, a deescalation, and to chart a path toward freedom and safety for all. Instead of heeding our call for a ceasefire, police violently attacked nonviolent protesters with pepper spray

Eva Borgwardt, IfNotNow’s National Spokesperson

Calling for a ceasefire is not a radical or fringe demand — a supermajority of Americans and an even bigger majority of Democrats want a Ceasefire NOW. It’s the Democratic Party that’s out of step with their own base, in favor of the politics of their big donors, providing full support for Israel’s genocidal actions. Tonight, police lied about the protest being violent, even as they roughed up protestors, sprayed tear gas on the crowd, and literally trampled vigil candles beneath their feet. We know lasting peace can only be achieved through a just end to the occupation, and call upon the federal government–who could stop the war tomorrow with a single phone call–to stop sending military aid to Israel

Renée Paradis of the Democratic Socialists of America.

Over the past 39 days more than 11,320 people have been killed in Gaza by Israeli airstrikes, and over 29,000 people wounded. Among the dead are more than 4,650 children, with over 1,755 still missing under the rubble. A recent poll found that 66% of all American voters want a ceasefire in Gaza, including 80% of Democrats, 56% of Republicans, and 57% of Independents. Yet, despite the overwhelming support for a ceasefire among voters, Democratic leadership and Members of Congress have refused to call for an end to the violence.