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Addressing Claims That ‘No Arrests Were Made’ When Pro-Palestinian Protesters Clashed With Police Near White House
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Addressing Claims That ‘No Arrests Were Made’ When Pro-Palestinian Protesters Clashed With Police Near White House

A viral tweet is true, though law enforcement did arrest protesters earlier in the day.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators gather at Freedom Plaza for a rally on January 13, 2024, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Several pro-Palestinian demonstrations took place in Washington, D.C., over the weekend. While Saturday’s demonstrations were largely peaceful, evening clashes at a temporary fence erected near the White House led to a flurry of videos, images, and comments online. In one viral tweet featuring video footage of protesters confronting law enforcement officers, Jon Levine—a political reporter for the New York Post—highlighted that no arrests were made during the incident. 

Levine cites a story in the New York Post detailing the extent of the protests and damage sustained to the fence. According to the story, sections of the fence were dislodged by protesters, requiring Secret Service officers to physically maintain the barrier. Additionally, objects were thrown at officers and some protesters attempted to scale the fence.

The New York Post story cited by Levine is correct: No arrests were made related to events in the evening near the White House. “The Secret Service made no arrests associated with the march on Jan. 13,” a spokesperson for the U.S. Secret Service told The Dispatch Fact Check in an email. The D.C. Metropolitan Police also confirmed in an email that the department had made no arrests. 

However, a spokesperson for the U.S. Park Police—who also hold law enforcement jurisdiction in the District of Columbia and its surrounding areas—told The Dispatch Fact Check that its officers had arrested two individuals earlier in the day during the protests: one for assaulting a police officer and another for disorderly conduct.

In addition, Capitol Police arrested approximately 130 pro-Palestine protesters on Tuesday at the Cannon House Office Building. “A group of people legally entered the Cannon House Office Building after they went through screening,” a Capitol Police spokesperson told The Dispatch Fact Check in an email. “Demonstrations are not allowed inside Congressional Buildings, so when they started to protest and refused to stop, we began arresting them.” The Capitol Police also confirmed in an email that no arrests had been made by its officers during Saturday’s protests. However, the Capitol Police hold law enforcement jurisdiction only around the Capitol Complex and adjacent grounds, not the areas around the White House where clashes occurred. 

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.