A protest erupted on Saturday evening as about 1,000 people gathered outside the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center in Sacramento, where the California Democratic Party was hosting its weekend events. The crowd was angry over the U.S. support for Israel in its ongoing conflict with the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The protest caused security guards to lock the entrances to the convention center and prompted party officials to cancel evening meetings and parties for the safety of the delegates and convention participants.
The demonstration was sparked by the recent escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas, which began on Oct. 7th when Hamas launched a series of attacks on Israel, killing about 1,200 people and abducting 240. In response, the Israeli military has launched airstrikes on Gaza, killing over 11,500 Palestinians, according to Palestinian health authorities, with an additional 2,700 missing and believed to be buried under the rubble. The conflict has once again highlighted the deepening divide on the left as the U.S. heads into an election year.
The protest started earlier in the afternoon, with a rally in a park blocks away from the convention center. Speakers at the rally denounced the Israeli bombardment of Gaza and called for an immediate cease-fire. As the protest grew in size and momentum, they marched towards the convention center, chanting “cease-fire now” and “Free Palestine.” Many protesters carried Palestinian flags and signs with slogans such as “Genocide Joe” and “bombing hospitals and children is a crime.”
The protest caused chaos at the convention center as demonstrators broke through security and opened several doors, allowing more people to enter the building. Inside, they continued to chant and wave their flags, disrupting the scheduled events. Some Jewish delegates expressed concern and frustration as the protesters chanted slogans like “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which many Jews see as a call for the destruction of Israel.
Naomi Goldman, a member of Democrats for Israel California, said it was painful to hear such hateful and violent rhetoric at a gathering of her party. She called for a denunciation of the hate speech and violence targeting the Jewish community and emphasized the need for a safe and inclusive space for all opinions. Ameera Abroumeleh, an 18-year-old Palestinian American, said she was eager to use her vote for the first time in the upcoming elections to show her support for her people and their struggle for liberation.
As the evening continued, Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate race, including Reps. Katie Porter, Adam B. Schiff, and Barbara Lee, made the rounds at the convention seeking their party’s endorsement. This incident highlights the growing tensions and divisions within the Democratic Party over issues such as the Israel-Palestine conflict. The organizers of the protest hope that this demonstration will draw attention to the ongoing violence and put pressure on the U.S. government to take action towards achieving a lasting peace in the region.