Pro-Palestine protesters occupied U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum’s St. Paul office Wednesday night, saying they wouldn’t leave unless their demands were met.
“So we’re here in Betty McCollum’s office and the news just came in … that Representative Betty McCollum has voted for House Resolution 771, which condemns the Palestinian resistance and also affirms Israel’s right to defend itself,” one of the activists said while filming himself inside McCollum’s office. The group of occupiers can then be heard booing.
Video taken by the protesters shows them sitting on and behind one of McCollum’s desks, the office furniture littered with the protester’s signs and Dominoes pizza boxes.
Pro-Palestine protesters are occupying Rep. Betty McCollum's St. Paul office because she has expressed support for "Israel's right to defend itself." pic.twitter.com/95sbdGCy5A
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) October 26, 2023
Activist and Minneapolis City Council candidate Lavish Mack, or Zach Metzger, posted videos to Instagram telling McCollum that her staff “can’t go home” until she stops supporting Israel. The video shows what appears to be one of McCollum’s staff members sitting on the floor inside the office. A group of protesters also congregated outside McCollum’s office, chanting, “Free, free Palestine!”
Activist and candidate for Minneapolis City Council Zach Metzger tells Rep. Betty McCollum that her staff "can't go home" until she stops supporting Israel. pic.twitter.com/2LkclLlIac
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) October 26, 2023
The occupation followed a march down University Avenue where protesters demanded that McCollum vote against President Joe Biden’s request for aid to Israel. According to a list of demands posted to social media, the protesters also want McCollum to agree to meet with them and release a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire.
“Representative Betty McCollum used to be one of Palestine’s strongest allies in Congress — even proposing cuts to U.S. aid to Israel,” the Minnesota Anti-War Committee posted on X. “But now she’s signed onto legislation that uses the bigoted language of the far-right to demonize Palestinians and has even waffled on demanding that Israel stop bombing Gaza.”
Tell @BettyMcCollum04: vote NO on Biden’s $14 billion request to fund Israel’s war on Palestine!🇵🇸
⏰Wednesday, Oct 25 @ 4 p.m.
📍Gather at intersection of Lasalle and University, St. Paul (one block from Rep. McCollum’s office) pic.twitter.com/AByKIItRwW
— MN Anti-War Committee (@AntiwarMN) October 23, 2023
The Minnesota Anti-War Committee later announced on X that their activists gained entry to McCollum’s office during the protest and “are refusing to leave until she pledges to vote NO on the $14 billion in aid to Israel that Biden wants.”
“A one-sided ceasefire is not sustainable and will fail. It must include Israel, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and other parties, with the support of the international community,” McCollum’s statement regarding her “yes” vote on House Resolution 771 reads. “The international community must also continue working together to facilitate critical humanitarian aid to Gaza — the population of which is nearly half children — so Palestinians have access to food, water, medicine, and fuel.”
The vote took place while the protesters were occupying her St. Paul office. Later, the Minnesota Anti-War Committee posted that 12 of the protesters were arrested for refusing to leave the office.
The St. Paul Police Department confirmed that a group of protesters entered McCollum’s office and refused to leave while another 250-300 protesters “blocked two sides of the building.”
“A planned protest was scheduled to take place at Rep. McCollum’s office at 661 LaSalle from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,” police said. “At 9:30 p.m., Saint Paul Police were contacted by Rep. McCollum, and asked to remove the protesters from within the building as well as assist four remaining staffers who were still inside the building.”
Police said they entered the building, encountered protesters inside, informed them they were trespassing, and repeatedly asked them to leave.
“After several warnings, the group was informed they were under arrest. They followed directions, placed their hands behind their backs and each of them were placed in handcuffs. A juvenile female was released on scene to her parents. The remaining 11 adults were all identified, cited, escorted off the property, and released,” police explained. “We cleared the building and escorted all four staffers out of the building. No force was used.”