The White House was forced to relocate staffers, the Secret Service said, after pro-Palestine demonstrators threw objects at law enforcement and damaged security fencing around the presidential residence.
A video from Saturday evening shows demonstrators chanting “All walls will fall!” as they shake the White House security fence while standing in Lafayette Park. Another video shows law enforcement holding the fence as demonstrators chant, “F**k Joe Biden!”
Other videos show protestors throwing projectiles over the White House security fence and chanting phrases such as “Free Palestine” and “Yemen, Yemen, make us proud. Turn this invasion around,” referring to how Houthi rebels have been attacking ships in the Red Sea since Oct. 7, 2023, and a U.S. coalition responded last week with military force.
Organizers estimate 400,000 people attended Saturday’s demonstration in D.C., according to the ANSWER Coalition, which is a collection of activist groups that unite under the acronym meaning, “Act Now to Stop War & End Racism.”
The U.S. Secret Service said some fences outside the White House were damaged and it resulted in staff members and reporters being “relocated,” according to Fox News Digital. President Joe Biden was not moved, as officials said he was visiting Camp David on Saturday.
“During the demonstration near the White House complex Jan. 13, a portion of the anti-scale fencing that was erected for the event sustained temporary damage,” the Secret Service said. Officials quickly repaired the damage on-site, the agency said.
“As a precaution, some members of the media and staff in proximity to Pennsylvania Avenue were temporarily relocated while the issue was being addressed,” the agency also said. “The Secret Service made no arrests associated with the march and there was no property damage to the White House or adjacent buildings.”
D.C. Metropolitan Police Department Chief Pamela Smith said Saturday that peaceful demonstrations are an important part of democracy, but some of the events that transpired that evening were not peaceful.
“[V]iolence, destructive behavior, and criminal activities are not tolerated,” she said. “While a majority of today’s demonstration remained peaceful, there were instances of illegal and destructive behavior in Lafayette Park, including items being thrown at our officers.”
Smith also thanked local and federal law enforcement partners and said that her department is supporting the U.S. Park Police in investigating Saturday’s incidents.
The protest is one of several to become physical in the U.S. since demonstrations in support of Palestine began on Oct. 7, when Hamas and other terror groups invaded Israel, killing about 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 others.
Israel responded with military force, and the Hamas-run Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilian and militant casualties, has said that more than 23,000 people in the Gaza Strip have been killed since Oct. 7.