SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The chair of the California Democratic Party vowed repercussions Sunday for members who took part in a raucous pro-Palestinian demonstration that forced an early halt to meetings the night before.
“Any delegates who actively participated in or aided the furtherance of those activities or events in violation of our party’s code of conduct will be held accountable,” Chair Rusty Hicks told party members gathered for a convention in Sacramento.
Protesters demanding a cease-fire in Gaza overwhelmed security guards and poured into the convention center on Saturday evening, leading the party to cancel planned caucuses. Earlier in the day, demonstrators shouted over and cut short a forum for U.S. Senate candidates.
Hicks did not elaborate on potential punishments. The party’s code of conduct says violators can be barred from attending events or stripped of their delegate status.
The chair said he was “deeply saddened and disappointed” by the disruptions, saying two security guards sustained “minor injuries” and that Jewish attendees “were openly intimidated and harassed.”
“Every delegate, volunteer, staff person and attendee has the right to be safe and to feel safe in the peaceful expression of their own voice and viewpoint,” Hicks said.
The conflict in Gaza has loomed over the convention, highlighting a gulf between progressives demanding a cease-fire and pro-Israel Democrats who have stopped short of that position.
None of the candidates running for an open U.S. Senate seat won the party’s endorsement, which requires a 60 percent vote. Rep. Barbara Lee — the only House Democrat in the race to back a cease-fire — secured a plurality, slightly eclipsing Rep. Adam Schiff.
Many delegates holding cease-fire signs also sported Lee gear. Activists backing a cessation of hostilities called it a moral imperative and warned they would withhold votes from Democrats who did not join them.
Saturday’s turmoil also drew pushback from some Jewish party members who noted protesters chanted “from the river to the sea,” a Palestinian liberation slogan that can be viewed as a call to do away with the state of Israel. Some demonstrators also chanted “intifada, intifada.”
The California Legislative Jewish Caucus said in a statement that some Jewish delegates “now believe it is unsafe to participate at all.”
“We fully support the right to protest loudly and vociferously. But storming through security and shutting down a democratic process — particularly with chants calling for the destruction of Israel and appearing to justify the Hamas attack — is completely unacceptable,” the caucus said.