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They’re arresting the wrong people inside of Congress

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Anti-war activists protest as Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. While they are arresting peace activists for exercising First Amendment rights, they are making plans to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a war criminal with an actual arrest warrant request, the writer says. – Picture: Celâl Güneş / via Peoples Dispatch

By Olivia DiNucci

I was arrested again inside of Congress for speaking out against US-backed genocide. Myself and others were brutally tackled and carried out of the room by Capitol Police. I was charged with “crowding, obstructing, or incommoding” for speaking out and holding a sign as the secretary of state and the secretary of defence testified in Congress for more money for the endless US war machine.

While they are arresting peace activists for exercising First Amendment rights, they are making plans to host Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — a war criminal with an actual arrest warrant request from the International Criminal Court.

The real criminals are the ones we are protesting against — the ones literally sitting directly in front of us inside the hearing room — and they should be the ones arrested, charged, and found guilty.

For decades, people following CODEPINK’s lead have been protesting inside the halls of Congress. The year before October 7, there were a handful of us protesting the bloated military budgets and the US warmongering. I was arrested several times on my own, but since October, dozens of us have been arrested in Congress, hundreds in DC, and thousands across the US and the world for Palestine.

The sustained energy and activism are the result of the nearly 40,000 of Palestinians murdered; millions being starved and displaced, their land, water, and air poisoned; and neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools, and refugee camps demolished.

The real criminals are the ones we are protesting against — the ones literally sitting directly in front of us inside the hearing room — and they should be the ones arrested, charged, and found guilty for the war criminals they are funding and supporting and the war crimes they are committing.

Any of us speaking and acting out on the side of justice know we are taking risks. We see it as our duty as people in the US in solidarity with and inspired by the Palestinian people facing and resisting this horror.

As I await my court date, I think of the people I spent the night with at the DC detention facility. Just this year, there have been five deaths inside the DC jail. The dozen or so women in there reminded me that poverty is a policy choice and our carceral, systemically racist state perpetuates harm and cycles of violence.

According to the US Centre for Palestinian Rights in Washington DC, for this year alone (before our additional billions of aid were sent), the $3.8 billion allocated for Israel’s weapons could instead fund 451,735 households with public housing, free or low-cost healthcare for 1,322,199 children, 41,490 elementary school teachers, solar electricity for a year for 10,818,505 households, and debt cancellation for 100,563 students.

The fight against US militarism is one that the climate, feminist, Indigenous, economic, and racial justice movements are all uniting around right now. And as it deepens and strengthens, we must become more organised as we escalate while we continue to make those in power uncomfortable.

Olivia DiNucci is an anti-militarism organiser at CODEPINK and also works as a social and climate justice facilitator internationally

This article was first published on Common Dreams