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Capitol Police evacuate lawmakers after protesters block DNC headquarters

Ten to 15 lawmakers safely escorted from building

Capitol Police evacuated 10 to 15 lawmakers from Democratic National Committee headquarters Wednesday after protesters blocked the building.
Capitol Police evacuated 10 to 15 lawmakers from Democratic National Committee headquarters Wednesday after protesters blocked the building. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Around 150 protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip blocked the entrance to the Democratic National Committee headquarters Wednesday night, causing Capitol Police to help evacuate lawmakers from the building.

The incident also shut down access to House office buildings. Capitol Police physically removed demonstrators who refused to leave, officers told CQ Roll Call. 

A video posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, by Jewish Voice for Peace Action shows Capitol Police bike officers pushing protesters toward the sidewalk away from the building. The group said it was there with IfNotNow and Democratic Socialists of America to lay out thousands of candles to represent Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Israel-Hamas war.

Sean Casten, D-Ill., who was evacuated from the DNC, said the protesters have the constitutional right to do so “but blocking all entries to a building with multiple members of Congress in it, protected by Capitol Police officers who have lived through Jan. 6, is putting you and other innocent people at risk.” 

He said he was “grateful for the USCP’s professionalism” and said it “could have been much worse.”

Six Capitol Police officers were hurt: four from being pepper sprayed, one from a punch to the face and one with a knee injury, according to a senior Capitol Police official, adding that the officers are now in good condition. One of the demonstrators was arrested for assault on a police officer, the official said.

The group began its march from Third Street and Maryland Avenue Southwest. When it approached the DNC, protesters started sprinting toward the building where about 10 to 15 lawmakers were present, said a senior Capitol Police official. The lawmakers were safely escorted from the building.

The Capitol Police said at 8:38 p.m. that they were working to keep back protesters who were “illegally and violently protesting” in the area of Canal Street and Ivy Street Southeast.

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., also among those those evacuated from the DNC and a staunch supporter of Israel, called the protesters “pro-terrorist” and “anti-#Israel.” He said the protesters pepper sprayed officers and tried to break into the DNC.

Jeff Ordower, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, said in a statement that the 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,” he said.

The vigil was sponsored by IfNotNow, Democratic Socialists of America and Jewish Voice for Peace Action, the protesters said.

“The Democratic Party just showed exactly how it feels about its voters,” said Sumaya Awad, a member of DSA-NYC. “The Israeli military just stormed a hospital in Gaza, airstrikes have killed over 4,500 children, and water is running out. Over 80 percent 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.”

The police kept at least 100 officers on the scene as of about 9:40 p.m., after the protesters had been removed. Officers formed a police line around the DNC and officers with riot gear were present, along with an armored vehicle.

South Capitol Street between Canal Street and E Street Southeast, along with Ivy Street between Canal Street and New Jersey Avenue Southeast were closed.

House office buildings were removed from lockdown and returned to normal operations at approximately 10:06 p.m. Capitol Police said officers would stay on scene even after the protesters had left.  

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