Protesters with Jewish Voice For Peace, American Friends Service and other groups block Biden's motorcade to the State of the Union speech

Demonstrators from several groups block Biden's motorcade to SOTU speech

(Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)

Biden Legacy = Genocide

Declaring, "We are outraged, we are heartbroken," hundreds of protesters turned out to block Biden's motorcade en route to his State of the Union speech, forcing cars to take "the long way" to the Capitol. Demonstrators from Jewish Voice For Peace and other groups said they were "holding a people's state of the union" to call for an end to U.S funding for Israel's assault on Gaza. "We know the state of the union," they said. “It's a state of genocide."

Concluding a day-long series of protests across Washington DC, hundreds of people in black shirts reading "Not In Our Name" and "Biden’s Legacy = Genocide" sat and stood along Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol, delaying Biden's speech by about a half hour. Organizers with megaphones led the crowd in impassioned chants: "Biden Biden You Can't Hide, We Charge You With Genocide," "Free, Free Palestine," "Stop Arming Israel," "Shame," "No More Money for Israel's Crimes." Banners were unfurled with the names of the over 30,000 Palestinians killed to date, alongside a sign that read, "Each Child of Gaza Is One of Our Own." Hours before the speech, demonstrators also gathered outside the White House, prompting police to block off roads. A Palestinian flag hung from the balcony of a Congressional office building, and many protesters donned keffiyehs. Said Ahmad Abuznaid, director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, "We are here today because enough is enough."

Protestors block traffic near US Capitol ahead of State of the

Demonstrators also blocked traffic across the country from Los Angeles to Boston, where over 50 people were arrested. In Chicago, activists from a dozen Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, multi-racial and teaching organizations held a 24-hour vigil that began with the reading of the names of Gaza's victims. "Thousands and thousands of people, men, women, children are dying," said one JVP member. "(It's) important to say these are real human beings." Arguing Biden would "say nothing substantive" about the conflict, many cited the need to "deliver our own state of the union." They are demanding a permanent ceasefire, an end to U.S. military funding for Israel, the reinstatement of funding to UNRWA, the UN agency that provides critical humanitarian aid, and investment in meeting Palestinian needs, from housing to health care to, ultimately, the dismantling of Israel's decades-old apartheid state in order to usher in "a just and lasting peace."

Among those participating were members of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that works in Gaza and the West Bank trying to serve hot meals and find food and water for the displaced. "The Biden Administration has the power, and the responsibility, to stop the killing," said AFSC General Secretary Joyce Ajlouny. "It is a cruel irony to drop food when at the same time the U.S. is funding the dropping of bombs." Others argued that acts of civil disobedience are "the bare minimum" by way of response to an administration that has "lost (its) moral standing" by facilitating the slaughter of 30,000 civilians. "The State of the Union is genocide," said one JVP member. "We will not accept a president who claims to be fighting for democracy while ignoring the majority of people he represents."

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