The conflict in the Middle East is a polarizing issue in the U.S. Pro-Hamas/pro-Palestinian rallies, coordinated by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organization, have prompted notable members to withdraw their memberships.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Mayor Eric Adams and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have also criticized the anti-Israel rallies.
But condemnation of Hamas and the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli citizens has not been as widespread as many expected.
Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib stand with pro-Palestinian protesters and refuse to condemn Hamas.
On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that a New York City council member and a state senator were among the 100 protesters arrested at an anti-Israel rally.
Jabari Brisport, 36, a state senator from Brooklyn, and City Council Member Shahana Hanif, 32, participated in the Friday evening Bryant Park rally and boasted on their social media pages that authorities arrested them for protesting.
Titled the “Cease Fire Now Rally for Gaza,” the rowdy event involved more than 1,000 protesters.
Brisport wrote on X: “Last night I was arrested with 100+ peace activists calling for an immediate ceasefire. We will not let our leaders repeat the mistakes of the past by escalating this war.”
Hanif wrote on Instagram that the NYPD arrested her and two aides:
“A ceasefire is the only way to bring all hostages home! #ReleaseTheHostages! I am proud to echo the calls for peace made by so many of my Palestinian, Muslim, and Jewish neighbors. We have seen enough bloodshed, we need our elected officials in every level of government to demand a ceasefire now.”
Rallies have been violent — with protesters lashing out at police and pro-Israel counterprotesters.
The NYPD said in a statement:
“Some demonstrators within the crowd chose to act in a combative and aggressive manner. Officers were pushed, shoved, and struck by some demonstrators within the crowd after the LRAD [long-range acoustic device] device was utilized.
“Officers were struck with flying debris which included eggs, fireworks, and bottles. Officers responded to this disruptive behavior and attempted to regain order by taking into custody those responsible for these actions.”
A series of rallies in New York have been coordinated by the Democratic Socialists of America. Sunday’s rally began in the park and ended with protesters marching to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s office.
The intent was to pressure Gillibrand to condemn Israel and demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. En route to Gillibrand’s office, hundreds of protesters stopped to block busy Fifth Avenue — ignoring officer pleas to get out of the street.
Gillibrand was not amused or impressed. The strategy to secure her support was not successful.
Along the route, scores of demonstrators planted themselves on Fifth Avenue around 8 p.m., sitting in uniform lines across the busy road and ignoring requests from cops to stop blocking traffic.
In total, the NYPD arrested 158 participants in weekend rallies. Most were released after receiving a summons to appear in court at a later date.
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