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Protesters Disrupt Record $25 Million Biden Fundraiser in NYC as Thousands March Against Gaza War

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Pro-Palestine protesters disrupted the largest one-night fundraiser in presidential campaign history on Thursday. The event at Radio City Music Hall in New York City included numerous celebrities and featured President Biden alongside former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, raising a record $25 million for Biden’s reelection campaign. The main event was an onstage conversation with the three U.S. presidents moderated by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert, but people began disrupting it just 10 minutes into their conversation, as Biden was talking, with protesters calling on the president to stop arming Israel and to enforce a ceasefire in Gaza. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters were also massed outside the venue to protest the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. We play voices from inside and outside the event.

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Transcript
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman.

Pro-Palestine protesters disrupted the largest one-night fundraiser in presidential campaign history here in New York yesterday. The star-studded event at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan featured President Biden alongside former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, raised a record $25 million for Biden’s reelection campaign. More than 5,000 people paid to attend, with tickets costing up to half a million dollars each. For $100,000, guests could get a picture with the three U.S. presidents taken by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz. Celebrities in attendance included Queen Latifah, Mindy Kaling and Lizzo.

The main event was an onstage conversation with the three U.S. presidents moderated by late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert. But just 10 minutes into their conversation — Biden was talking — protesters began disrupting the event, calling on the president to stop arming Israel and to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We had no president on January the 6th. [inaudible] There was an insurrection.

PROTESTER 1: Shame on you, Joe Biden! Shame on you! Shame on you! You are supporting genocide in Palestine! And no amount of false concern that you do will change the billions that you are doing!

SECURITY GUARD: Out the door.

PROTESTER 1: You have blood on your hands! Blood on your hands!

BILL CLINTON: They create the policies. But I do believe —

STEPHEN COLBERT: For people watching at home — 

BILL CLINTON: Do you want to say anything?

STEPHEN COLBERT: Excuse me. Excuse me, Mr. President.

PROTESTER 2: You are all complicit in genocide!

STEPHEN COLBERT: The people who are watching, who are watching at home on TV, may not be able to hear the protesters here, who — hold on a second here.

PROTESTER 2: You have killed 32,000 Palestinian people!

PROTESTER 3: How dare you talk about the innocent death of Palestinians! How dare you talk about the innocent death of Palestinians! Palestinians are dying right now because of your actions! Palestinians are dying right now because of your actions!

PROTESTER 4: Shame!

PROTESTER 3: Because of what you’re doing! Because of the things that you’re doing! Blood is on your hands!

PROTESTER 4: Shame! Shame! Stop brutalizing him!

PROTESTER 3: Blood is on your hands!

PROTESTER 4: Stop brutalizing him!

AMY GOODMAN: The protesters were all physically escorted outside. The event disruption was organized by a coalition including Adalah Justice Project, Palestinian Youth Movement and Jewish Voice for Peace and the Sunrise Movement.

Meanwhile, outside the event, thousands took to the streets to protest President Biden’s support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. Protesters gathered at Bryant Park and marched up to Radio City Music Hall. Democracy Now! was there and spoke to some of the protesters about why they were there.

PROTESTERS: From the belly of the beast, hands off the Middle East!

PROTESTER 5: Currently we are working on the Leave It Blank New York campaign for the upcoming primary happening April 2nd, on Tuesday. We are asking people to leave it blank, because there is no “committed” or “uncommitted” option in New York City. So, we, rather, tell them to scan their ballot as is, and that will then count as “uncommitted,” to show Genocide Joe that we are not going to stand while we watch our brothers and sisters being genocided.

JENNA: My name is Jenna. I am a first-generation American Palestinian. And we have had enough. My family has voted Democrat for as long as we’ve lived in the U.S. It’s heartbreaking. We feel guilty, and we feel awful. I feel like I voted for my own people’s genocide. And I’m done letting Democrats get away with it just because we’re scared of the alternative.

KARINA GARCIA: My name is Karina Garcia. I’m running for vice president of the United States with my comrade Claudia De la Cruz. And we’re running with the Party for Socialism and Liberation. And we’re here today, as we’ve been through all of these protests for Palestine, because we understand that our government is orchestrating this genocide, that without their support, without their financing, Israel could not be doing what they’re doing to the Palestinian people. And it’s important for us to come together and not allow these war criminals, like Biden or Clinton or Obama, to just use these moments to be in New York City to raise money. The people are waking up, and they’re seeing that the Democratic Party is where hope goes to die, and that the people have to build a new government for the working class, for the people of this country, that we cannot allow them to drag us into the 1800s, drag us into a nuclear war.

PROTESTER 6: You know, the fact that we had access to watching a genocide in real time and we were able to see for ourselves that these people are liars, that everything that they have told us about Palestine and about the Middle East has been a lie, means that we are able to make — and also we’re able to make the connections — young people are able to make the connections between what’s happening in Palestine, what’s happening to migrants in the U.S., what’s happening to queer and trans people in the U.S. And we are saying, “Free Palestine. People over profit. And an end to U.S. imperialism everywhere.”

PROTESTER 7: Anybody who sees this, no matter where you come from, no matter who you are, you have to take part in this. You cannot be silent. Everyone must become involved. There are lives being lost. There are pregnant women being run over by tanks. This is abominable. We cannot learn about the Holocaust and watch movies about the Holocaust and then say, “Oh, well, you know, I would have done something then.” You have to do it now. It’s like Aaron Bushnell said, “What would you be doing during those times? You’re doing it now.” So, if you don’t like what you’re doing, if it’s not enough, change it.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from outside Radio City Music Hall, where presidents Biden, Obama and Clinton spoke inside in the largest single-night fundraiser in U.S. presidential campaign history. More than $25 million was raised.

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