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Pro-Palestine protestors assault police officials, damage security fences outside White House

"Yemen, Yemen, make us proud, Turn another ship around," slogans were also raised during the protest, which took place just hours after strikes were conducted against the Houthis in Yemen in response to their recent offensive targeting commercial ships

On Saturday (13th January), thousands of pro-Palestine protestors and rioters congregated outside the White House and vandalised the security fences in addition to hurling objects at the police. In the protest visuals going viral online the unruly protestors were seen shaking the gates and attempting to forcibly enter the White House premises in Washington D.C.

The “March4Gaza” protesters shouted “Ceasefire Now” and “Free, Free Palestine,” and many waved Palestinian flags. “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud, Turn another ship around,” slogans were also raised during the protest, which took place just hours after strikes were conducted against the Houthis in Yemen in response to their recent offensive targeting 27 commercial ships including one of US in the Red Sea. 

Pro-Palestine demonstrators in the United States capital brandished signs challenging President Joe Biden’s viability as a presidential candidate due to his sturdy backing for Israel in the over 100-day conflict against Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. “No votes for Genocide Joe,” “Biden has blood on his hands,” and “Let Gaza live” were among the placards seen during the protest. A massive Palestinian flag was unfurled across the centre of the square by demonstrators. Several protestors were seen wearing keffiyehs, traditional black and white Palestinian scarves.

Pro-Palestine protestor raise Palestinian flag during protest on 13th January (Image source: USAToday)

Protestors attacked police officials

In a press release issued Saturday night, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela A. Smith condemned protesters for their illegal behaviour. “The right to peacefully protest is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and the Metropolitan Police Department has long supported those who visit our city to demonstrate safely. However, violence, destructive behavior, and criminal activities are not tolerated,” Smith’s statement reads.

The statement further mentions that some of the police officers were assaulted by the protestors in Lafayette Park.

“While a majority of today’s demonstration remained peaceful, there were instances of illegal and destructive behavior in Lafayette Park, including items being thrown at our officers. We are supporting our partners at the United States Park Police as they investigate and hold those found responsible accountable for their actions. I extend my gratitude and sincere appreciation to the members of the Metropolitan Police Department, as well as our local, state, and federal partners, for doing their part to protect our community today and every day,” the Metropolitan Police Department Chief’s statement added.

To no surprise, however, the police have not made any arrests so far despite the “illegal” behaviour of the protestors. However, a knife-yielding protestor was taken into custody.

Taking to X, the US Secret Service spokesperson issued a statement saying that part of its fencing around the White House suffered “temporary damage.”

“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. As a precaution, some members of the media and staff in proximity to Pennsylvania Avenue were temporarily relocated while the issue was being addressed. The Secret Service made no arrests associated with the march and there was no property damage to the White House or adjacent buildings,” the statement reads.

Pro-Palestinian group behind the protest

The anti-Israel protest was part of a global day of action that included protest marches in London, Paris, Rome, and Dublin. Notably, the pro-Palestine protest was organised by the “Act Now to Stop War and End Racism” coalition, which is calling for a permanent cease-fire in Gaza, an end to US military funding for Israel, and Israel to be held accountable for what organisers call war crimes and violations of international law. The group arranged bus transportation for protesters from various states on Saturday.

According to an X post by the ANSWER Coalition, around 400,000 people joined the protest on Saturday. “Watch a time lapse video showing the enormous size of the historic National #March4Gaza! Organizers estimate that 400,000 attended. Initiated by the American Muslim Task Force for Palestine with ANSWER as a National Partner, the action demanded: end the US-Israeli genocide in Gaza!” the pro-Palestinian group posted.

A press release issued by the ANSWER Coalition dated 3rd January stated that it is the “national partner” of the “mass action initiated by the American Muslim Task Force for Palestine.” The release further listed out information regarding buses to reach the protest site in Washington. The Coalition accused the Biden administration of having “full participation in the genocide of Palestinian people.”

It is pertinent to recall that back in November last year, ANSWER Coalition had organised a similar anti-Israel protest. On 4th November 2023, the pro-Palestinian protestors gathered outside the White House in Washington D.C. and vandalised the gates. They defaced the White House gates with red paint before attempting to scale the fence around the President’s residence.

The protesting mob had raised anti-semitic slogans like “From river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. Moreover, the protestors also raised “Allahu Akbar”, “Fu*k Joe Biden” slogans while accusing the US president of supporting the alleged genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

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