The police arrest dozens of protesters demanding a cease-fire in the Capitol Rotunda - Action Center on Race and the Economy

The police arrested about 60 people who staged a protest in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday to demand a cease-fire in Gaza and oppose a bill under consideration in Congress that would send billions of dollars in aid to Israel and impose stricter immigration policies at the United States border with Mexico.

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The protest, which included leaders of pro-Palestinian and Jewish groups as well as progressive climate, labor and immigrant advocacy organizations, drew about 100 people to the Capitol. They demonstrated peacefully in the Rotunda for roughly 30 minutes before several dozen Capitol Police officers removed them.

The groups organized “to say no to more weapons for Israel’s genocide in Gaza, no more money to imprison children and families seeking safety at our border, no more money to destroy lives,” said Sandra Tamari, the executive director of Adalah Justice Project, one of the groups that organized the protest. “The Democratic leadership and the Biden administration are failing the people.”

In a statement, the Capitol Police said the arrests were for “crowding, obstructing or incommoding.” The police began releasing arrested protesters Tuesday afternoon.

“We were aware of a group’s potential plan to take a tour of the U.S. Capitol Building and then start a protest,” Capitol Police said in the statement. “It is against the law to demonstrate inside the congressional buildings, so we brought in additional officers to be prepared for the moment the group would break the law. The group was screened when they entered the building.”

Protesters sang “Not in our name,” “Invest in life,” and “Let Gaza live,” as tour groups passed around them before Capitol Police blocked off the area. They carried a banner calling for a cease-fire, also chanting “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” and “Not another nickel, not another dime, no more money for Israel’s crime.”

Israel has said its ground invasion and aerial bombardment is targeting Hamas, not civilians. But it has faced criticism for the soaring civilian death toll in Gaza that is nearing 20,000 people, according to the health ministry there, and the White House has warned Israel that it must fight more surgically.

The protesters laid out a few dozen pairs of children’s shoes to signify the thousands of children killed in Israel’s military campaign since Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked the Jewish state and killed 1,200 people.

The demonstration came as the Senate continued intensive negotiations on a bill requested by President Biden to provide tens of billions of dollars in aid to U.S. allies including Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The bill has been delayed as lawmakers have struggled to reach a compromise on border policy changes demanded by Republicans in exchange for funding to Ukraine.

The protest came amid widespread voter disapproval of how Mr. Biden and Congress have responded to the Israel-Hamas conflict. It also reflected the deep divisions among Democrats on calling for a cease-fire and conditioning aid to Israel amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

The demonstration was organized by the Action Center on Race and Economy, Adalah Justice Project, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Linda Sarsour, a prominent Palestinian-American activist, also participated.

The protesters, who initially planned to be escorted by a congressional staff member to the Rotunda, were diverted several times as they tried to enter the Capitol, which is not open to the public except for official tours. They ultimately signed up for a Capitol tour and went through all the motions, including watching a short film about the history of the United States and the complex, before arriving in the Rotunda and starting their demonstration.