- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 16, 2023

Democratic leaders are under fire for slow responses to pro-Palestinian demonstrators’ attack on the Democratic National Committee headquarters Wednesday.

“Sometimes saying nothing says everything,” National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Jack Pandol said. “Multiple officers were injured in the line of duty, and Democrats can’t even offer a simple thank you — let alone condemn the antisemitic riot.

“The glaring truth is, these pro-Hamas rioters represent Democrats’ base of support and they are terrified to offend them,” he said.

Democratic leaders later issued a statement thanking the police.

The Democratic leaders further acknowledged that “some protesters escalated their activity in a manner that exceeded a peaceful demonstration.” That line, for critics on the political right, was reminiscent of the “mostly peaceful” Black Lives Matter riots of 2020.

“I fully condemn this mostly peaceful protest at the Democratic Party’s HQ in Washington by Hamas sympathizers,” tweeted Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida Republican.

Omri Ceren, national security adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz, added: “Mostly peaceful attempt to violently storm Congress.”

Others pointed to the discrepancy between the understated Democratic reaction to the leftist rioters versus the party’s full-throated condemnation of pro-Trump rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“I expect the GOP to lead the call for a House Subcommittee on the 11/15 Insurrection,” said Florida criminal defense lawyer Eric Matheny, co-host of the “Bob & Eric Save America” podcast on X.

President Biden applauded the police but refrained from criticizing the mob when he called a DNC meeting on Thursday.

The White House said in a statement that Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden “expressed appreciation to law enforcement who kept everyone inside the DNC safe last night, including staff and Members of Congress.”

“The president and first lady also thanked the staffers for all they do, wished them a happy Thanksgiving and told them to take care of each other,” the statement said.

Early Thursday, House Speaker Mike Johnson condemned the actions of the demonstrators and praised the work of the Capitol Police.

“Last night, pro-Hamas protesters outside the U.S. Capitol violently attacked the Democratic National Committee headquarters. I condemn this criminal activity, which injured six brave Capitol Police officers, in the strongest terms,” said Mr. Johnson, Louisiana Republican. “As Americans, we must unite with one voice in steadfast support of our ally Israel.

“Congress will not be intimidated by this vile display of anti-Semitism,” he added.

Lawmakers were evacuated Wednesday night from the DNC headquarters near the Capitol as roughly 200 demonstrators started fighting with law enforcement and storming the building. The mob, whose members donned shirts with the message “Cease Fire Now,” was illegally protesting outside the DNC building, just south of the Capitol complex.

Six Capitol Police officers were treated for injuries, including from pepper spray and punchings. U.S. Capitol Police said one man was arrested.

Videos of the event showed the group shouting obscenities at police officers who formed a protective ring around the building.

The DNC was hosting a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee candidate event. The Democrats inside the building included House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Suzan DelBene.

In a joint statement released Thursday, the Democratic leaders thanked Capitol Police for ensuring the lawmakers were safe.

“We are thankful for the service and professionalism of the U.S. Capitol Police officers who worked to ensure that members, staff and visitors were able to safely exit,” the statement said. “We strongly support the First Amendment right to freedom of expression and encourage anyone exercising that right to do so peacefully.”

Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat, said he was evacuated from the party headquarters.

“Was just evacuated from the #DNC after pro-terrorist, anti-#Israel protesters grew violent, pepper spraying police officers and attempting to break into the building,” Mr. Sherman posted on X.

“Thankful to the police officers who stopped them and for helping me and my colleagues get out safely,” he said.

Mr. Sherman also said, “Apparently, these pro-#Hamas demonstrators want #Republicans to prevail in the next Congressional election.”

IfNotNow, the group that led the protest with other left-leaning pro-Palestinian groups, said in a statement that police injured 90 protesters.

“Capitol Police were the ones who used pepper spray, not us. Capitol Police were violent, not us,” said one of the groups’ several posts on X. “We can’t let this distract from the real violence: the starvation and murder of the people of Gaza, backed by Dem politicians.”

The group said protesters were injured from “being pepper sprayed, dragged by the hair, choked, thrown down stairs, and punched in the face.”

The group’s national spokesperson, Eva Borgwardt, told Axios that the goal was to block the door of the DNC building “in non-violent civil disobedience.”

Tensions have been rising over the Israel-Hamas conflict, with both sides demonstrating in Washington. It has been more than a month since the terrorist group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

• Mallory Wilson can be reached at mwilson@washingtontimes.com.

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