Israel-Hamas war ceasefire protest shuts down Assembly on day one – Orange County Register

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It was a rather eventful start to the 2024 legislative session.

Several hundred activists calling for a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war demonstrated inside the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 3, shutting down proceedings in the Assembly just after it had begun.

Protesters chanted and prayed in the rotunda. They dropped banners from the Assembly balconies that read, “No U.S. funding for Israel’s genocide in Palestine.” They placed poppies in the Capitol, representing Palestinians who have been killed in the conflict.

“We as California’s taxpayers contribute hundreds of millions in military aid to Israel each year while people in our own communities struggle without access to food, homes and healthcare,” said David Jones Krause, a member of IfNotNow, an American Jewish group that opposes Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “We are Americans committed to the safety and dignity of all people and call on our leaders to stop funding genocide and instead invest in our local communities.”

Speaker Robert Rivas addressed the protests, according to Politico, saying: “This is a difficult moment for our communities here in California and for everyone around the world.”

The Israel-Hamas war, a three-month-old conflict worlds away, is permeating local, state and federal governments — and Sacramento is no different. Aside from the protest, legislators were already moving to address the war this session.

The Legislative Jewish Caucus, of which Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, is a member, sent a letter prior to the start of this session asking colleagues to focus on efforts to address antisemitism on college campuses. The group also wants to ensure that the history of the Holocaust is taught properly in public schools and for the legislature to create a Select Committee on Antisemitism to help protect the Jewish community in California.

And Assembly Republicans introduced a resolution condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7  attack and antisemitism in general. Assemblymembers Phillip Chen, R- Brea; Laurie Davis, R-Laguna Niguel; Diane Dixon, R-Newport Beach; Kate Sanchez, R-Rancho Santa Margarita; and Tri Ta, R-Westminster are among the co-authors of the resolution.

In other news

• Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, whose district includes southern Orange County, introduced legislation to strengthen California’s red flag law, which allows a court to take away firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. The legislation, SB 899, would standardize all firearm-prohibiting restraining orders to help courts follow up to ensure guns have, in fact, been relinquished.

“Right now, only domestic violence restraining orders require courts to follow up on whether a firearm was properly turned over as required by law,” said Blakespear. “SB 899 makes this practice consistent across all restraining order types and helps us keep firearms out of the hands of people who should not have them.”

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