Cotton Urges Citizens to Forcibly Confront Pro-Palestinian Protesters


Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, on Monday urged people whose routes were blocked by pro-Palestinian protesters to “take matters into your own hands” and confront the offenders, endorsing the use of physical force against peaceful demonstrators.

In a series of social media posts after protesters shut down traffic in cities across the country including major roads in Oakland, Calif., the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and near O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Mr. Cotton called those responsible “pro-Hamas” and “criminals.”

He also shared a clip of himself during a recent interview in which he said that if protesters had disrupted public roads in his home state of Arkansas, they would have been met with force from citizens.

“Let’s just say I think there would be a lot of very wet criminals that would have been tossed overboard — not by law enforcement, but by the people whose road they are blocking,” he told Fox News in the interview. “If they glued their hands to their car or pavement, it’d probably be pretty painful to have their skin ripped off.”

On Tuesday morning, Mr. Cotton posted a video showing a group of men forcibly removing protesters in orange vests from a roadway that appeared to be outside of the United States. In the clip, one man is shown roughly dragging a protester off the road by his feet.

“How it should be done,” Mr. Cotton wrote.

His comments came as protesters angry over U.S. support for Israel’s offensive in Gaza have stepped up their civil disobedience in recent days.

Mr. Cotton ignited furor in 2020 with an opinion essay in The New York Times in which he called for the use of military force to put down riots across the country amid a rash of civil unrest that followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by the police in Minneapolis.

“One thing above all else will restore order to our streets,” he wrote at the time: “an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.”

Other elected officials have also strongly criticized the pro-Palestinian protesters. Senator John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania, who has been among the most vocal supporters of Israel during the conflict, on Tuesday posted video of protesters demonstrating in a Starbucks and said such conduct was egregious.

“I don’t know who needs to hear this, but blocking a bridge or berating folks in Starbucks isn’t righteous,” he wrote on social media, using a vulgarity referring to a contemptible person to describe those who take such action.

But he did not call for protesters to be targeted.

“Demand Hamas to send every hostage back home and surrender,” Mr. Fetterman wrote.



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