A protest turned violent outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Thursday night. Around 200 protestors gathered to speak out against the DNC’s “establishment politics,” but the demonstration took a dangerous turn when a small group of activists began throwing rocks at the building, breaking windows.
Police were called to the scene around 8:30 p.m. as the crowd grew unruly. Video shows protestors chanting angrily and holding signs criticizing the DNC. Some individuals can be seen smashing windows with rocks and bottles. At one point, a protestor attempted to breach the building by climbing through a broken window but was stopped by authorities.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who has frequently criticized the DNC in the past, spoke out against the violence. “I condemn the actions of those who engaged in violence last night. There is no justification for attacking public property and putting people at risk,” Sanders said in a tweet Friday morning.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) also denounced the incident. “Peaceful protest is protected by our Constitution. Violence is not,” she wrote on Twitter.
This is not the first time DNC buildings have been targeted by activist groups. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Wikileaks published leaked DNC emails, causing outrage among supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who felt the party establishment favored Hillary Clinton based on the emails that were released.
Police arrested 12 individuals in connection with the disturbance. Charges are still pending as the investigation continues. DNC Chair Jaime Harrison called for calm and constructive dialogue moving forward. “We must reject violence,” Harrison said. “The DNC hears you and we will keep working for real change.”
The protest tapped into ongoing progressive frustration with mainstream Democrats. However, most experts agree that breaking the law distracts from any legitimate grievances. “There are many effective, nonviolent ways to spark change and highlight injustice,” said civil rights historian Dr. Dana Carson of Georgetown University. “Vandalism will only undermine the cause.”
While the majority of protestors remained peaceful, the provocative actions of a few created a dangerous situation. Leaders across the political spectrum have emphasized that violence and illegal acts are never the answer, no matter how worthy the cause.
I’m grateful that staff & visitors at the DNC were safely evacuated as law enforcement acted quickly to respond to protests outside our building last night. As Americans we have a right to demonstrate peacefully, but violence is never acceptable.
— Jaime Harrison (@harrisonjaime) November 16, 2023