Oct 18, 2023 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Capitol access restricted after arrests at Gaza ceasefire protest

A group of people, demanding a ceasefire, hold banners as they gather to protest against the Israeli attacks on Gaza near the Capitol Building in Washington DC, United States on October 18, 2023. Photo: Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images.

The public's access to the U.S. Capitol complex was restricted on Wednesday after a sizable demonstration calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas disrupted one of the House office buildings.

Driving the news: The House sergeant-at-arms said out a memo to congressional offices that all visitors would be restricted to a single door in an attempt to control public entry into the campus.

  • Several barriers of bike-rack fencing were erected around the Capitol on Tuesday night in anticipation of the protest.

The latest: A Capitol Police made "upwards of approximately 300 arrests for demonstrating in the Congressional Buildings," a spokesperson told Axios.

Driving the news: Hundreds of protestors affiliated with left-wing groups If Not Now and Jewish Voice for Peace gathered both inside and outside the Cannon House Office building on Wednesday afternoon to call for a ceasefire.

  • Scores of demonstrators inside the building chanting "ceasefire now" were arrested by the Capitol Police throughout the afternoon.
  • The Capitol Police also announced they were shutting down roads around the Capitol to ensure the safety of protestors outside.
Photos via Andrew Solender/Axios

What they're saying: "Demonstrations are not allowed inside Congressional Buildings," the Capitol Police said of the arrests in a post on X.

  • "We warned the protestors to stop demonstrating and when they did not comply we began arresting them."
  • The House sergeant-at-arms said in another alert that the Capitol would return to "normal operations" and access restrictions lifted at 7:00 p.m.

Editor's note: This article was updated after it was first published.

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