December 5, 2023

A pro-Palestinian protest in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday night where demonstrators clashed with police caused MAGA supporters to draw comparisons to the January 6 Capitol riot.

Over 100 people gathered outside a fundraiser event held by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) outside the U.S. Capitol building on Wednesday night to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel’s war on Hamas is raging.

But the rally descended into chaos as demonstrators clashed with the Capitol Police, who evacuated the area and reportedly made several arrests.

The protesters—approximately 150 people—were “illegally and violently protesting,” the U.S. Capitol Police wrote on X, formerly Twitter. In a later post, the police wrote that “6 officers were treated for injuries” that night, “ranging from minor cuts to being pepper sprayed to being punched.”

Washington D.C. pro-Palestinian protest
U.S. Capitol Police pull pro-Palestinian protesters away from the DNC headquarters on November 15, 2023, in Washington, D.C. MAGA loyalists compared the demonstration to the January 6 Capitol riot.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

According to the Capitol police, one person was arrested for assault on an officer.

Protesters have rejected the police’s claim that the demonstrations were violent.

“We were peacefully linking arms, singing, and calling for a ceasefire,” wrote the American Jewish organization IfNotNow on X, formerly Twitter, answering to a post from Democratic Representative Brad Sherman of California. In his post, Sherman had thanked the Capitol police for protecting him from “pro-terrorism, anti-Israel protesters.”

IfNotNow shared a video showing the protests were peaceful when demonstrators were allegedly charged by officers. “Then Capitol Police rushed in, threw us down the stairs, and pepper sprayed us,” the group said.

In a news release shared by Jewish Voice for Peace with Newsweek, the organization said that “Washington, D.C. police violently attacked nonviolent anti-war activists…wielding pepper spray and pellet guns.”

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Capitol Police via email for comment on Thursday.

On social media, MAGA supporters compared the incident to the January 6 riot.

“This is what a real insurrection looks like Dems… The left has created an unhinged mob that is turning on them in real time,” wrote an X user with the handle of “Scary Election Denier.” Conservative activist Scott Presler also called the incident an insurrection.

“Got another insurrection in Washington DC. Will they be put in solitary confinement like the J6 protesters?,” another person posted.

Kari Lake, a MAGA loyalist who refused to concede to Democrat Katie Hobbs after losing Arizona’s latest gubernatorial election in November 2022, likened the protests to “terrorism.”

“For years the Democrats have refused to condemn terrorism. For years they have emboldened the most fringe elements of their party. Now pro-Hamas insurrectionists are attempting to overrun the DNC,” she wrote on X. “We need Law and Order in America!”

Do the Pro-Palestinian Protests Compare to the Jan. 6 Riot?

The one clear comparison between the pro-Palestinian rally on Wednesday night and the January 6 riot is the location where both took place: the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. While both events saw clashes between protesters and Capitol police, the motives that brought the two groups to the building were much different.

The pro-Palestinian protesters were calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, where over 11,000 people have been killed since October 7, the Associated Press reported, citing the Gaza Health Ministry. On that date, Palestinian militant group Hamas attacked southern Israel, where roughly 1,200 people have died and 200 people taken hostage, according to the AP. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza.

January 6 rioters were protesting at the Capitol in 2021 against the results of the 2020 presidential election, which they falsely claimed was rigged to pick Joe Biden over Donald Trump. Multiple independent experts have determined that there was no evidence of voter fraud involved in the 2020 election.

Unlike the pro-Palestinian protesters, who remained strictly outside the building prior to being removed by police, the January 6 rioters forced their way inside the building. Some were in possession of weapons.

Thousands of Americans have joined protests across the country putting pressure on the Biden administration to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. President Biden has so far refused to call for a ceasefire, suggesting instead that a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict is needed to assist struggling civilians in Gaza.