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At least six Jewish protesters arrested at pro-Palestinian rally outside JFK federal building

Protesters had tried to stage a sit-in at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office but were stopped inside the building

Pro-Palestine demonstration at JFK Federal Building calls for ceasefire, ends in arrests
The demonstration, led by a coalition of progressive Jewish groups, resulted in at least six arrests after demonstrators tried to stage a sit-in.

At least six Jewish protesters were arrested at a pro-Palestine demonstration that descended on Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Boston office on Wednesday “to push for de-escalation and a ceasefire” of the war between Israel and Hamas.

The rally was organized by a local coalition of progressive Jewish groups to mourn Israeli and Palestinian victims of the war between Israel and Hamas and to call out Warren, who said in a recent post on social media site X that Israel must “minimize civilian harm” in its response to Hamas.

Those arrested had entered the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Federal Building, next to Boston City Hall, and refused to leave while scores of demonstrators gathered outside to call for peace and a ceasefire in Gaza. Some carried signs saying “Ceasefire now” and “Jews against genocide.”

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A spokesperson for Boston police deferred comment on the arrest to federal law enforcement officials, who could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday night.

The late afternoon protest at the JFK building was one of at least two pro-Palestine demonstrations held Wednesday in Greater Boston.

About 200 people gathered for a “die-in” outside of Harvard Business School on Wednesday, condemning the Israeli government’s airstrikes and blockade of the Gaza Strip. As helicopters whirred overhead, the protesters at Harvard lay prone as if dead on the lawn behind Klarman Hall while holding signs accusing Israel of genocide and demanding an immediate cease-fire.

The protesters demonstrated as the school was hosting an event that was set to feature former president Barack Obama. He was unable to attend because of illness, an aide announced.

At the JFK building rally, protesters listened to hours of speeches, with organizers calling for peace and criticizing the Massachusetts senior senator for not doing enough to de-escalate the conflict.

At times, the crowd sang “Not in our name” and “Ceasefire now.” At others, it chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Long live Palestine.”

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“We do not want to mourn more and more every day,” Haley Kossek, an organizer of the rally, told the crowd through a bullhorn.

An organizer addressed the crowd at the pro-Palestinian rally outside the JFK building, where Senator Elizabeth Warren's Boston office is located. Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Another speaker, Rabbi Rebecca Zimmerman Hornstein, said the US government has real power to force Israel to change course. She called on Warren to work toward a cease-fire, allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, and ensure the release of hostages.

“The events of the last 10 days have shown us that there is no such thing as safety for some unless there is safety for everyone,” she said. The crowd cheered.

Jill Charney, a Newton resident and member of Jewish Voice for Peace, told the crowd, “Our souls are crushed, we are heartbroken, and we are angry.”

“The violence did not come out of nowhere,” she said. “Oppression breeds violence. Palestinians have been killed for decades. They have moved from their homes in a violent way.”

Warren tried to strike a balance to the competing interests in a statement issued via email.

“I appreciate the people who came to my office to share their perspectives and experiences — that’s what democracy is about,” the statement said. “Israel has both a right to defend itself from terrorist attacks and an obligation to protect innocent civilians under the international laws of war. Palestinian civilians have a right to humanitarian aid including food, water, shelter, and medicine. There is an urgent need for safe corridors in Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid, and I will continue to emphasize the imperative to protect civilians.”

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Not everyone was on the same page in the crowd. One man held a cardboard sign that read: “Never again means destroy Hamas.” Other sign-wielding demonstrators tried to block that message from view by stepping in front of him and eventually some grabbed the man’s sign and ripped it up.

A peaceful counterprotester held up a sign reading, “Never again means destroy Hamas,” as people rallied outside of the John F. Kennedy Federal Building Wednesday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Another man walking by the demonstration screamed that the rally-goers were supporting terrorists. “Fourteen hundred missiles in one day and that’s OK?” he asked. Then before walking away he declared, “I don’t want to hear your [expletive].”

Nichole Mossalam, a Malden resident who is friends with a Medway family who remains trapped in Gaza, denounced “American-made bombs funded with American dollars” raining death upon Gaza.

“This is not right,” she said.

Six Jewish protesters seeking “to prevent impending genocide in Gaza” had tried to stage a sit-in at Warren’s office but were stopped inside the building before reaching the senator’s office.

Jewish protesters were arrested after staging a sit-in inside the John F. Kennedy Federal Building after they were stopped while trying to get to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

It is the third similar protest at one of Warren’s offices in the last week. A demonstration was held at Warren’s Springfield office on Tuesday and at her Boston office last Friday.

Seven people were arrested at the demonstration on Friday.

Mira Revesz, a member of IfNotNow from Marlborough, who was arrested at Warren’s office last week, was back to join protesters on Wednesday.

“The past four days have proven beyond question that Israel is not minimizing civilian harm,” Revesz said in a statement. “I’m returning to Senator Warren’s office today because she can do more and she must do more.

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“As Jews, we are appalled by the violence unleashed on Israelis and Palestinians in the past 10 days,” Revesz continued. “We are also disgusted by craven attempts by American and Israeli politicians to pit Israeli and Palestinian lives against each other; the choice is not between Israeli lives or Palestinian ones but between an ever-escalating cycle of violence or peace.

“So many of us are out here calling for peace. We refuse to let our grief be used to justify a second Nakba.”

Elliott Snow, another member of IfNotNow, also attended Wednesday’s demonstration.

“I met Senator Warren once and she told me to keep fighting for what I believe in,” Snow said in a statement. “I’m here because I’m fighting for safety and justice for Palestinians, Israelis, Jews, and all people — and I’m calling on her to join me.”

Hiawatha Bray of the Globe staff contributed to this report.

Pro-Palestinian Jewish protesters linked arms and staged a sit-in inside the John F. Kennedy Federal Building after they were stopped while trying to get to Senator Elizabeth Warren’s office Wednesday.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him @Danny__McDonald. Tonya Alanez can be reached at tonya.alanez@globe.com. Follow her @talanez.