Capitol Police confront fallout from violent protest at Democratic headquarters

The Capitol Police announced that a protest that turned violent outside of Democratic Party headquarters Wednesday night resulted in one arrest for assaulting an officer.

A group of protesters advocating for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war had blocked an entrance to the headquarters, located just blocks from the Capitol, prompting police to attempt to clear the protesters out of the way. The USCP said in a statement the group had “failed to obey our lawful orders to move back from the DNC.”

The police and protesters have issued conflicting reports about the nature of the demonstration, with police saying that attendees had become violent after officers tried to remove them, resulting in attendees pepper spraying officers. The coalition of groups present at the protest said nonviolent demonstrators had been “violently attacked” by police, resulting in over 90 injuries.

Several House Democratic lawmakers, including party leadership, had been present for an event at the building and were evacuated.

The Hill’s police force has been on edge after recent assaults against lawmakers, with law enforcement particularly sensitive about keeping entrances open to buildings in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot. The Washington D.C. police assisted in responding to the protests but referred all questions to the Capitol Police.

Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.) said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that blocking the entrances put protesters and others at risk. He was one of the lawmakers present at the fundraiser.

“We were rescued by armed officers who did not know the protestors’ intent; they knew only that Members of Congress were inside, could not leave and that protestors would not let police through. Forcing police to guess intent is irresponsible and dangerous,” he said.

Another lawmaker who had been in the building, Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Mich.), condemned the violence.

“The right to demonstrate and peaceably assemble is a constitutionally protected one,” she said in a statement. “But demonstrations such as this one — in which police orders to leave private property were ignored, Members of Congress were blocked from exiting, and six police officers were injured — cannot be classified as peaceful. “

House office buildings were placed on lockdown during the incident. In a message posted on X, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) faulted “these pro-Hamas insurrectionists” for the disruptions and called on the Biden administration to treat the incident the same as it did “January 6 cases.”

Speaker Mike Johnson, in a statement Thursday, condemned what he called “this vile display of anti-Semitism.” Other Republicans, including Florida Reps. Kat Cammack and Anna Paulina Luna, said they were placed on lockdown due to the protests.

“I’m with my baby at my office and the Capitol offices just went into lockdown because of these clowns,” Luna wrote. “Nut jobs.”

The protests came just a few years after a still-unknown suspect placed a pipe bomb outside both the DNC and Republican National Committee prior to the events of Jan. 6, 2021.