Nov 17, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Multiple congressional offices hit with pro-Palestinian vandalism

Rep. Dan Goldman's office is defaced with pro-Palestinian graffiti on Nov. 17, 2023. Photo: Rep. Dan Goldman.

Three members of Congress had their district offices vandalized with pro-Palestinian graffiti in just over a week amid an uptick in threats and disruptive protests.

Why it matters: It's part of a sharp rise in political tensions over the Israel-Hamas war, with lawmakers beginning to speak out about aggressive protest tactics targeting them.

Driving the news: A staffer for Rep. Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.) discovered the congressman's New York City office had been defaced with pro-Palestinian slogans including "BLOOD ON UR HANDS" on Friday morning, Goldman's office told Axios.

  • Security camera footage showed at least two people, but they covered the camera and their identities remain unclear. Goldman's office filed a police report and law enforcement is investigating.
  • Goldman, who is Jewish, was in Israel and sheltered with his family from Hamas rocket fire during the Oct. 7 attack. On Thursday he called on President Biden to address Israeli settler violence in the West Bank.
  • "Harassing, intimidating, and outright attacking the staff of a Jewish elected official at a time of rising violence and rampant antisemitism is dangerous and unacceptable," Goldman spokesperson Simone Kanter said in a statement to Axios.

What they're saying: The vandalism of Goldman's office sparked swift backlash from his fellow New York Democrats, including several high-profile progressives who are notably sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

  • "We stand together to condemn the vandalism discovered this morning targeting Representative Dan Goldman's district office," more than a dozen House Democrats from New York said in a joint statement.
  • "While everyone has a first amendment right to peacefully protest and make their voice heard, that must not extend to intimidating staff or outright criminal behavior."
  • Among the signers were Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Jamaal Bowman and Nydia Velázquez, all of whom have endorsed a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
Photo: Sen. Martin Heinrich.

The backdrop: The incident comes after Sen. Martin Heinrich's (D-N.M.)  office was similarly defaced on Tuesday, with vandals spray painting "HEINRICH STOP THE GENOCIDE" and "FREE PALESTINE" on the windows and doors.

  • "Senator Heinrich supports and respects New Mexicans' right to peacefully protest, as guaranteed by the First Amendment. He is also committed to his staff's right to work in a safe environment," Heinrich's spokesperson told Axios in a statement.
  • "There are many ways to exercise your First Amendment rights. Committing vandalism and breaking the law is not one of them."
  • Rep. Monica De La Cruz (R-Texas) had her district office graffitied with "ISRAEL KILLS JEWS TOO" last week. Police are investigating that incident.

The big picture: The incidents coincide with a protest on Wednesday in which pro-Palestinian demonstrators attempted to block the doors to the Democratic National Committee headquarters with multiple House Democrats inside.

  • Lawmakers both present and absent from the event told Axios afterwards that the incident punctuated an increasingly unnerving security situation for lawmakers since the Oct. 7 attack.
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