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Protesters Interrupt Biden’s Speech in Charleston to Demand Gaza Ceasefire

The act of protest comes as Biden prepares for the 2024 presidential race despite record low polling numbers.

President Joe Biden watches as protestors are escorted out of the building while supporters chant, "Four more years," during a campaign event at Emanuel AME Church on January 8, 2024, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Demonstrators interrupted a speech by President Joe Biden on Monday, demanding that his administration push for an immediate ceasefire in Israel’s genocidal bombing campaign against Gaza as the Palestinian death toll tops 23,000.

Biden’s speech took place at the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, a historic Black church that was the site of a white supremacist shooting in 2015. The speech, which centered upon the dangers of a second Trump presidency in 2024, came as Biden prepares to go head-to-head against the former president despite record low polling numbers, perhaps in part due to his staunch support for Israel’s genocide.

The pro-Palestinian demonstrators were among members of the crowd listening to Biden’s speech. After Biden referenced the people who were massacred in the church, one of the protesters stood up and shouted, “If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine.”

That demonstrator was joined by others nearby who began chanting “ceasefire now,” bringing the president’s speech to a temporary halt. Supporters of Biden attempted to shout over the demonstrators, chanting “four more years” to drown them out.

After the protesters were ushered out of the church, Biden resumed his speech, acknowledging their interruption before continuing his planned remarks.

“I understand their passion,” he said. “I’ve been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza.”

While there is little evidence that Biden is “quietly” working to reduce bombings in Gaza, there is evidence that the White House is pushing to be able to conduct arms deals with Israel in complete secrecy — and that his administration has attempted to crush internal dissent on the genocide. Biden’s claims are also contradicted by statements from multiple current and former leaders of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in recent weeks.

For example, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the IDF, said that fighting in the region would “continue during the year 2024.” Another former IDF official, retired Major General Amos Yadlin, said that Israel would remain in Gaza for around “nine months to a year.” And in late December, Israel’s Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said that the war on Gaza would last “for many months.”

Other protest actions took place in the U.S. on Monday, as demonstrators continued to demand an immediate ceasefire and the lifting of the Israeli siege, freedom for all Palestinian prisoners, an end to the occupation, and an end to all U.S. aid to Israel. In New York, hundreds of protesters shut down three bridges and one tunnel in the city, disrupting traffic to draw attention to the genocide. According to the New York City Police Department, around 325 people were arrested in the protests.

Since the Hamas-led attacks on October 7, the IDF has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians in Gaza, more than 9,000 of whom are children. Several international bodies, including many officials at the United Nations, have warned that Israel’s siege of Gaza is targeting civilians and putting millions at risk of full-fledged starvation.

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