Mennonite peace activists

Mennonite peace activists assemble at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C. on January 16, 2023.

(Photo: Mennonite Action)

150 Mennonites Arrested at Capitol for Peacefully Demanding Gaza Cease-Fire

Mennonite Action's fight against Israel's U.S.-backed bombardment of Gaza is "rooted in values that our cultural or spiritual ancestors passed down: peace, justice, community, mutual aid, and service."

The faith-based pro-Palestinian rights group Mennonite Action on Tuesday reported that 150 members and supporters were arrested by U.S. Capitol Police for holding a peaceful occupation of the Cannon House Office Building, demanding a cease-fire in Gaza.

The group displayed signs reading, "Mennonites for a Cease-fire" and, "Let Gaza Live" as they sang hymns and other songs from a "cease-fire songbook" organizers had distributed.

On its Facebook page about two hours after the peace action began, Mennonite Action reported that "all Mennonites in the Cannon building have been placed in police custody, singing hymns through their arrest."

Mennonite Action describes itself as "a movement of Mennonites bonded by a common belief that we have a responsibility to use our voices as powerfully as possible for the cause of peace and justice."

Aleja Hertzler-McCain of the National Catholic Reporter noted that with 62,000 members of the Mennonite Church in the U.S., "if all those arrested are MCUSA members, roughly 1 in 500 Mennonite Church members were arrested today on Capitol Hill."

In addition to the action in the Cannon building, about 200 Mennonite Action members and members of the church held "a hymn sing and worship service" outside on Capitol Hill, urging members of Congress to back a cease-fire.

Last week, members of the group joined thousands of people in a march in Washington, D.C., demanding a cease-fire, and last month Mennonite Action held a national day of action, with members assembling at the offices of lawmakers including Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.).

At least 24,285 people have been killed in Israel's assault on Gaza so far. The Biden administration has repeatedly claimed that Israel is taking steps to protect civilian lives even as Israeli officials have explicitly said they plan to "flatten" the enclave.

Mennonite Action's fight against Israel's U.S.-backed occupation and bombardment of Gaza is "rooted in values that our cultural or spiritual ancestors passed down: peace, justice, community, mutual aid, and service," its website reads. "We know that these shared values fly higher than any nation's flag. We refuse to turn a blind eye to violence and oppression no matter who is perpetrating it—even, and especially, our own governments."

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