(The Center Square) – Pro-Palestine demonstrators occupied the California capitol building on the first day of the 2024 legislative session, highlighting a growing divide in California politics between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine individuals. While an earlier pro-Palestine protest led California governor Gavin Newsom to move last month’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Capitol online due to safety concerns, those present at this week’s demonstration — even those in opposition — characterized the event as “peaceful” and “well organized and not chaotic.”
As documented in video by KRCA News’ Ashley Zavala, demonstrators walked into the California Capitol’s rotunda, chanting “California lead the way” as they urged state lawmakers to support a ceasefire in Gaza.
Demonstrators unfurled banners from the rotunda’s mezzanine suggesting the United States is responsible for the war in Gaza, in sequence saying, “No funding for Israel’s genocide in Palestine,” “$600 million California tax dollars annually,” “Thousands and thousands of U.S. bombs,” “30,000 killed in Palestine,” and “Reinvest tax $$$ in healthcare, housing, schools, climate.”
“The demonstration was disruptive, but it was well organized and not chaotic. Although I disagree with the message this group was communicating, I respect their right to express it,” said Assemblymember Tom Lackey, R–Palmdale, to The Center Square. “They demonstrated peaceful, non-threatening behavior. Free speech is an American value with protections enshrined in our constitution.”
This demonstration contrasted sharply with other protests that drove Newsom to cancel the in-person Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the state capitol, such as when several hundred protestors attempted to storm the Rockefeller Plaza tree lighting ceremony in New York City and ended up standing off with and scuffling with police.