Earlier this week, a group of protesters representing the pro-Palestinian groups Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now entered the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, performed a “sit-in,” and called for a cease-fire in Israel and Gaza. Per CBS News, about 300 people were arrested for their participation in the protest.
“A group of protesters are demonstrating inside the Cannon Rotunda. Demonstrations are not allowed inside Congressional Buildings,” the Capitol Police said on social media on Wednesday. “We warned the protestors to stop demonstrating and when they did not comply we began arresting them… Arrests in the Canon Rotunda and the rolling road closures are ongoing. Amongst these arrests, three people have been arrested and charged with Assault on a Police Officer during processing.”
It was a fairly run-of-the-mill protest, of the kind that happens in that building quite often, and it employed 1960s-style civil disobedience tactics. Protests are not allowed in that building, and therefore the participants were arrested.
However, some on the right, led by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), have pursued an alternative narrative about that protest: That it was an “insurrection,” akin to January 6, that Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) had “instigated” it, and therefore Tlaib is deserving of punishment, if not arrest.
“Today @RepRashida followed Hezbollah’s orders for a “day of unprecedented anger,” Greene wrote on X. “She organized the occupation of the Cannon office building with radical Global Intifada group and anti-Israel activists JVP…Tlaib is a terrorist sympathizer and does not belong in Congress!”
“I’m writing a censure resolution for Rashida Tlaib,” Greene added on X. “After what she did today, I expect even Democrats will join in. She is an Israel hating America hating woman who does not represent anything America stands for.”
This is completely wrong for a long list of reasons.
It’s not clear where the idea came from that Tlaib “organized” or “instigated” the protest on Wednesday. The protests were conducted under the auspices of Jewish Voice for Peace, a group of Jewish Americans who are opposed to Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. Tlaib, who is Muslim and not Jewish, does not appear to be a member of that group and is not typically in the business of helping them organize events. JVP has been around for many years and has often conducted this sort of protest. They don’t need a member of Congress to “instigate” or organize in order to have one.
Per Fox News, Tlaib was seen “speaking to protesters outside the building about a recent blast at a Gaza hospital,” although evidence has been scarce that she was any type of leader of the protest, and what difference it would make if she had been.
Furthermore, there is nothing tying a typical sit-in at a Capitol office building, of the type that happens very often, with Hezbollah’s calls for a “day of unprecedented rage.”
There are numerous other reasons why the Wednesday event should not be called an “insurrection.” The protest did not involve any attempts to enter the floor of either House of Congress or the offices of members of Congress. They were not aimed at blocking an official proceeding of the Congress — in fact, the building, while part of the Capitol complex, is not the Capitol building itself. And while three people were arrested for assaulting police officers, video indicated this was as they resisted arrest. Unlike on January 6, no one appeared to assault a cop with his own shield.
“Since folks asked, and some (apparently including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene) seem confused by it: Protests in this Capitol area rotunda are quite common, as are peaceful protests that result in one-by-one peaceful arrests. I cover them a lot,” reporter Jack Jenkins of Religion News Service said on social media earlier this week.
Author Expertise and Experience
Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Stephen has authored thousands of articles over the years that focus on politics, technology, and the economy for over a decade. Follow him on X (formerly Twitter) at @StephenSilver, and subscribe to his Substack newsletter.