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Woman punched in face as protesters of Israeli-Hamas war disrupt holiday party in Detroit

Posted at 6:36 PM, Dec 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-18 19:01:06-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — "It was something we never expected," said 91-year-old Bernice Smith about the shoving match and what some have called a violent disturbance that was sparked during the holiday party for the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party Saturday evening.

Smith attended the annual event with her sons and was stunned when protesters began chanting thirty seconds after U.S. Representative Shri Thanedar began to address his constituents at the Common Pub near Wayne State University.

Ceasefire protests erupt at Congressional holiday party

The protesters, some wearing shirts that read "Free Palestine," were calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

One woman was punched in the face as she and a number of other people attending the party tried to push the protesters outside of the venue.

Jonathan Kinloch, Chair of the 13th Congressional District Democratic Party, said protesters refused to leave the venue after he and the owner demanded that they exit.

Cell phone videos captured much of the disturbance that spilled outside where protesters began banging on the windows of the venue.

"This is not going to give you support for your cause," Thanedar said during a press conference Monday. "I welcome them to come to my office. I welcome them to invite me to town halls where I could come and we can have a dialogue."

No arrests were made but Detroit Police said they are investigating the incident.