Cotton: People Should Confront Pro-Palestinian Protesters

He denounces protests that blocked traffic in multiple states Monday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2024 7:01 PM CDT
Cotton: People Should Confront Pro-Palestinian Protesters
Demonstrators protesting the ongoing war in Gaza block southbound traffic on Interstate 880 in Oakland, California, on Monday, April 15, 2024.   (Bront? Wittpenn/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)

After pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked roads and bridges in major cities Monday, a Republican senator urged people to confront what he called "criminals" and "pro-Hamas mobs." Sen. Tom Cotton, who called for the military to put down riots in 2020, said in a post on X that he encourages "people who get stuck behind the pro-Hamas mobs blocking traffic: take matters into your own hands to get them out of the way. It's time to put an end to this nonsense." He also shared a video of people in what appears to be a European city forcibly dragging protesters out of the middle of the road, commenting "How it should be done," the New York Times reports.

Protesters blocked traffic into airports including O'Hare and Seattle-Tacoma on Monday, the AP reports. They blocked all traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and Manhattan-bound traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. Dozens of protesters were arrested on the Golden Gate Bridge. California Highway Patrol spokesman Darrel Horner tells the Times that contrary to Cotton's advice, drivers delayed by protests should let authorities handle the situation. He says drivers shouldn't take matters into their own hands or even get out of their vehicles. "We don't encourage any kind of violence," he says.

In a Fox News interview, Cotton said people who tried to block a bridge in his home state, Arkansas, would become "very wet criminals" after being "tossed overboard" by motorists. The senator doubled down on his remarks Tuesday, saying people should "forcibly remove" protesters, though he denied that he was calling for violence. "I'm saying that if people are trying to get to work or pick up their kids from school or take a sick kid to the doctor, and you have pro-Hamas vigilantes blocking the streets, they should get out and move those people off the streets," he told NBC News. "The police will get there eventually. But a lot of damage will be done in the meantime." The Times notes that other lawmakers have also blasted the pro-Palestinian protesters, including Democratic Sen. John Fetterman. (More pro-Palestinian protesters stories.)

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