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Pennsylvania Capitol protest against state investing in Israel bonds ends with arrests

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Police took into custody more than 100 people protesting the Pennsylvania state government’s investments in Israel on Monday, shutting down a demonstration on the steps of the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg.

A spokesperson for the Department of General Services, which includes the Pennsylvania Capitol Police, said 126 people were taken into custody at what he described as an unpermitted, unauthorized demonstration. They were ordered to disperse before being arrested, issued citations for trespassing and then released, said spokesperson Troy Thompson.

The protestors, many wearing T-shirts that said “divest from genocide,” clapped and chanted during the protest, which organizers said was targeted at the state Treasury Department’s investment in Israel bonds.

One large sign said the state should reinvest that tax money in health care, housing, schools and climate. There were chants of “free Palestine” before and after they were arrested.

The event was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, the Philly Palestine Coalition and the Pennsylvania Council on American-Islamic Relations. It began Monday morning outside the Capitol but moved to the Rotunda by early afternoon.

Lilah Saber, a participant in the protest, said it was solely focused on the state’s investment in Israel bonds.

“We did not plan on being arrested, but we were arrested,” Saber said.

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, a Republican, said state treasurers of both parties have invested in Israel bonds for more than 30 years. The state’s share of Israel bonds rose by $20 million after the Hamas attack that began the war in Gaza and is currently $56 million, Garrity said in a statement released by her office.

The state also holds about $8 million in other Israel-based securities. Together with the $56 million, that amounts to about 0.14% of the funds the Treasury Department actively manages, Garrity said.

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This story has been corrected to show that Lilah Saber is a protester and not a member of Jewish Voice for Peace.

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