Despite enhanced security measures, pro-Palestinian activists were able to upend the party gathering.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Democratic Party convention was abruptly derailed Saturday as pro-Palestinian protesters occupied the convention hall and forced the party to cancel events for the night.
The demonstrations, which had ebbed and flowed throughout the day’s proceedings, hit a crescendo in the evening when hundreds of people were able to get past the security screening. They streamed into the multi-story convention center, drumming and waving Palestinian flags while calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. Outside one building entrance, protesters gathered around a pick-up truck outfitted with speakers, where activists were leading the crowd in chants.
“Shut it down!” was a common refrain, although most of the convention activities were finished for the day. The main floor was quiet at the time, but there were smaller caucus gatherings in meeting rooms upstairs. The voting for state party endorsements, the official purpose of the gathering, took place online. The rest of the events scheduled that evening were called off, a party spokesperson said, “due to circumstances beyond our control.”
At one point, people had surrounded the doors of two entrances to the center. Security cleared one exit and escorted attendees outside the building. At the other exit, the guards gave way after a large group of people rushed the doors and broke through.
The evening protest took on a more bellicose tone than earlier in the day, as the crowd chanted “from the river to the sea,” a term many interpret as calling for the elimination of Israel. Protesters also chanted “resistance is justified when people are occupied.”
While the atmosphere remained charged, there were no signs of violent scuffles. Police had shut down streets around the state Capitol — which is two blocks away from the convention site — for most of the afternoon. But as of mid-evening, law enforcement was mostly monitoring the protest from across the street.
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