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National Movement Leaders Arrested As They Call for Ceasefire

#News and Press Releases#Human Rights Defense
December 2023

Invest in Life, Divest from Death

Sara Mersha, our co-executive director, was among the dozens of leaders of US progressive organizations (including Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Adalah Justice Project, and more) who came together on December 19 to demand Congress invest in life and divest from death.

We call upon Congress to push for a permanent ceasefire now: stop arms to Israel and stop the US-funded genocide in Gaza. Vote down Biden’s $106 billion spending package on arms and border militarization.

Over fifty movement leaders and allies gathered in the Capitol Rotunda and were arrested in a civil disobedience action:

Below, read the full press release from the coalition.


December 19, 2023


Alia El Assar, Adalah Justice Project | | 407-808-3601

Jennifer K. Falcon, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights | | 210-608-2467

Craig Phelps | | 314-379-7442

Jesse Brooks, The Worker Agency | | 908-868-1549

Eli Day, We The People Michigan| | 313-995-5055

Dozens of National Movement Leaders Arrested in Capitol Rotunda Calling for Ceasefire and End of U.S. Funding for Weapons to Israel, Border Militarization

Washington, D.C. — Today, at least 50 national movement and organizational leaders were arrested while staging a protest in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda demanding a ceasefire in Gaza and opposing the proposed U.S. supplemental package, which would send billions of dollars in weapons and military funding to Israel, U.S. southern border militarization, and immigration enforcement within the U.S. Leaders traveled from across the country to take the unprecedented action and make their demands of elected officials heard as Congress plans to wrap up for the holidays while bombs continue to rain down on Gaza.

They issued the following joint statement: 

We want Congress and President Biden to act on Permanent Ceasefire Now by stopping all military funding to Israel. We demand that the United States stop arming Israel and facilitating genocide in Gaza. We demand that there be no further border violence or genocide in our names, funded with our tax dollars. In short, we demand that our leaders divest from militarism, and invest in life!”

The diverse group of protestors was made up of leaders from Palestinian, Jewish, veteran, youth, immigrant, climate and racial and economic justice groups, and included constituents of critical states in the upcoming elections such as Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Florida.
(Full list of organizations represented below, with quotes from selected leaders.)

The latest version of the spending package introduced in the Senate would allocate $14.3 billion in military funding to Israel, and nearly $8 billion to border militarization and immigration enforcement agencies. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked the package in efforts to secure sweeping policy changes that would signal the return of the Trump-era asylum systems in the United States, expediting deportations, increasing immigrant detention, and even closing our southern border to migration altogether. The action comes as President Biden and Democratic members of Congress have publicly signaled that they will concede the human rights of immigrants to Republican lawmakers in order to push through funding for foreign militaries, disregarding the calls of immigrant communities to rescind requests for deadly enforcement funding and stand strong against these proposals.

Congress has spent $21 trillion the last 20 years on military and war. The calls for a ceasefire are accompanied by the demand for a divestment from death and investment in life and our communities at home, schools, health care, elders, young people, and workers instead. In specific, the $106 billion allocated to the supplemental spending package could:

  • Keep child care centers open to serve 3.2 million children now at risk of losing care ($16 billion)
  • Health care for all 5 million uninsured children in the US ($14 billion)
  • 6 million public housing units ($58 billion)
  • Resettle 1.4 million refugees ($7.8 billion)
  • Build solar power for 23.9 million homes ($9.6 billion)

As the year comes to an end and the bombs continue to fall on Gaza, killing an average of 280 people per day, leaders across movements implore President Biden to demand a ceasefire in Gaza and stop funding violence at our southern border in our communities.

Press kit is available at the following links and will be updated on an ongoing basis:
Photos are available here.
Videos are available here.

Sponsoring organizations: Action Center on Race and Economy, Adalah Justice Project, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, and the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights.

Participating organizations:; Amistad Law Project; Athena Coalition; CAIR Philadelphia; CAIR San Francisco Bay Area; Center for Popular Democracy; Climate Organizing Hub; Communities United for Status & Protection; Community Labor United; Detention Watch Network; Detroit Action; Fight for the Future; Florida Rising; Florida Palestine Network; Funding Freedom; Grassroots International; HEAL Food Alliance; Highlander Research & Education Center; Jewish Voice for Peace Action; Jews For Racial & Economic Justice; Justice Is Global; Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice; LeftRoots; MediaJustice; Minnesota Environmental Justice Table; Movement Law Lab; MPower Change; Muslim Counterpublics Lab; Muslims for Just Futures; Nasty Woman Cosmetics; Native Organizers Alliance; New Justice Project; New York Communities for Change; One Fair Wage; OPEIU Local 12; Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition; Political Research Associates; POWER Interfaith; Progressive Maryland; Puget Sound Sage; Reclaim Philadelphia; Resource Generation; Right to the City Alliance; Rising Majority; Showing Up for Racial Justice; State Power Caucus; Survivors Know; TakeAction Minnesota; The New Justice Project MN; The Organizing Center; Upturn; We the People Michigan.


“We stand together, linked arm and arm, to say no to more weapons for Israel’s genocide in Gaza, no more money to imprison children and families seeking safety at our border, no more money to destroy lives. The Democratic leadership and the Biden Administration are failing the people.” 

— Sandra Tamari, Executive Director of Adalah Justice Project

“I am so proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the leaders of dozens of powerful organizations, and the millions of Americans they represent to call for a permanent ceasefire now, and a restoration of human rights and dignity at the Southern Border and in Gaza. I am here because my government is using my taxpayer dollars to carry out a genocide against people who look just like me in Gaza and to keep immigrant families that look just like mine out of this country.

“As civic leaders in the United States, we have a moral responsibility to speak out against senseless militarism and advocate for desperately needed investments in housing, healthcare, and education here at home. We are here to stand up for innocent Palestinians, immigrants, and for the vast majority of the American people who are demanding an end to the bloodshed. 

“We need a permanent ceasefire today and to begin the hard work of repairing the damage our billions of dollars in military aid has done to the Palestinian people.”

— Saqib Bhatti, Co-Executive Director of Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE)

“For a vibrant, healthy democracy to prosper, civil society plays a critical role in keeping those with governing power accountable to the needs of the people.  Right now individuals and organizations are being censored, silenced, penalized, and defunded for taking a moral and political stance to call for a permanent ceasefire in Palestine. By penalizing those who speak out against genocide; academia, philanthropy, and the media are creating a pathway for the undercutting of democracy and the rise of authoritarianism.  It is essential for a real democracy to ensure enough funding for the basic needs and livelihoods of its people, especially housing, healthcare, care of children and elders, access to healthy food and water. Instead of investing in the needs of our communities, the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration are negotiating a $106 billion package to move even more funds to war and weapons that are destroying homes, cultural institutions, food and health infrastructure in Gaza, while also locking in more funds to further criminalize migrants at the US Mexico border. The genocide in Gaza must end, and it is beyond shameful that elected officials are using this moment to advance policies that will harm even more communities.” 

— Cindy Wiesner, Executive Director of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance 

“We are mourning our Palestinian kin being massacred as we watch in horror from our phones, and as the survivors continue to live through a U.S.-backed genocide. Our broad coalition will not sit idly by as Joe Biden uses migrant communities as a bargaining chip to keep fueling Israel’s bombing of Gaza. We are strong and we won’t back down.”  

Ahmad Abuznaid, Executive Director of U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights 

“Many of us are personally connected to colleagues who have been killed in Gaza, often alongside their entire families in the dead of night, and others who are zigzagging across the tiny strip, desperately trying to survive without adequate food, water, and shelter as bombs rain down around them. As a mother, I feel the raw pain of Palestinian mothers sobbing over their children’s bodies as they take their last breath. I could not watch from home as Congress votes on whether or not to send more bombs to commit a genocide. We stand with the majority of people in the US who want a humanitarian ceasefire now.” 

Sara Bissrat Mersha, Grassroots International, one of over 1,000 foundations and donors who came together as Funders4Ceasefire.

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