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Celebs shower Biden with campaign cash, but could undercut 'Scranton Joe' image

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Celebs shower Biden with campaign cash, but could undercut 'Scranton Joe' image

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Celebrities and elites at the highest echelons of American society and industry have showered President Biden’s re-election campaign with massive donations, which could undercut the 46th president’s homespun “Scranton Joe” and “Amtrak Joe” image. 

Biden took the stage of Los Angeles’s Peacock Theater earlier this month, when he was flanked by former President Obama and late night host Jimmy Kimmel. The audience, performers and others attending the event in Biden’s support included Hollywood elites such as George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Barbra Streisand, Jack Black, Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn and Mindy Kaling, Vanity Fair reported. The star-studded fundraiser was a monetary success for the president’s re-election campaign, shattering previous Democratic fundraising benchmarks with $30 million in donations, the Biden campaign said earlier this month. 

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The swank fundraiser, however, comes at a time when inflation continues throttling the average American household, and the president pitches himself to voters as a man of the people with humble roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania. 

“2024 will be a choice between two very different economic visions for America: Donald Trump, who sees the world from his country club at Mar-a-Lago, and President Biden, who sees the world from kitchen tables in Scranton,” Biden’s campaign website reads. 

BIDEN LOOKS TO CAPITALIZE ON STAR-STUDDED HOLLYWOOD FUNDRAISER AFTER TRUMP’S MASSIVE CASH HAUL IN BLUE STATE

President Biden laughs with former President Obama during a campaign fundraiser at the Peacock Theater in Los Angeles on June 15, 2024. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

TRUMP CATCHES UP TO BIDEN IN CASH DASH, BUT CAN HE SPEND THE MONEY IN TIME?

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Dana White and Donald Trump smile

Former President Trump, UFC president Dana White during the UFC 295 event at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 11, 2023, in New York City. (Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

The 2023-2024 election cycle is anticipated to be the most costly in history, with Forbes reporting political ad spending would top $10 billion across White House and congressional races. 

Following Biden announcing in April of last year that he’d “finish the job” and run for re-election, the Biden-Harris campaign amped up its fundraisers for the anticipated rematch against former President Trump. 

Biden and Jimmy Kimmel

President Biden speaks with host Jimmy Kimmel as he makes his first in-person appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” in Hollywood, California, June 8, 2022. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

As Hollywood’s writers’ strike raged last year, Biden engaged with Broadway stars to boost campaign funds, with performers such as Sara Bareilles, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt appearing on behalf of Biden in September for a star-studded fundraiser, the AP reported. 

BIDEN HAS A MASSIVE MAY FUNDRAISING HAUL, BUT COMES UP FAR SHORT OF TRUMP

As 2023 drew to a close, Biden went on a Hollywood-focused fundraiser blitz. Singer James Taylor performed during a Boston fundraiser in December, before the president traveled to Los Angeles, where he held a series of fundraisers, including one joined by filmmaker Steven Spielberg, director and actor Rob Reiner and producer Shonda Rhimes, in addition to California politicos such as Gov. Gavin Newsom and Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Adam Schiff. Singer Lenny Kravitz performed during the event, which cost $1,000 to $500,000 per ticket, the Los Angeles Daily News reported at the time. 

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BLOOMBERG, CONSERVATIVE BANKING HEIR MELLON, SHELL OUT MILLIONS TO BOOST BIDEN, TRUMP

Vice President Kamala Harris

Vice President Kamala Harris also attended swank fundraisers last year, including one on Martha’s Vineyard. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Vice President Kamala Harris also attended swank fundraisers last year, including one on Martha’s Vineyard with “Suits” actor Wendell Pierce during an event billed as “grassroots” that sold tickets for $50 to $10,000. 

BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON TAP INTO THEIR MONEY MEN FOR BIDEN’S BATTLE AGAINST TRUMP

Hollywood stars and executives were among the first to pad Biden’s campaign coffers ahead of the election cycle kicking off in earnest this year. Former Walt Disney Studios chair Jeffrey Katzenberg, for example, made an $889,600 contribution to Biden last year, as did Lin-Manuel Miranda, when he donated $20,000, Deadline reported last year. Other Hollywood and tech leaders made sizable donations to the Biden Victory Fund, DNC, or other Democratic initiatives in 2023, such as OpenAI CEO Sam Altman donating $200,000, actor and voice actor Seth MacFarlane donating $100,000, and music composer Michael Skloff donating $100,000, the outlet reported. 

The Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee announced earlier this year that they raised $97 million in the last three months of 2023, which PBS reported was “boosted” by Biden’s swank events with Hollywood stars. 

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Presidents Biden, Clinton, and Obama

President Biden and former Presidents Obama and Clinton during a campaign fundraising event at Radio City Music Hall in New York, March 28, 2024. (Reuters/Elizabeth Frantz)

The Biden-Harris campaign continued courting celebrities and other moneyed elites this year, including at New York City’s Radio City in March, which was hosted by actress Mindy Kaling, with late night host Stephen Colbert moderating a conversation with Biden, Obama and former President Bill Clinton. Special guests such as Queen Latifah, Lizzo and Ben Platt were also in attendance, according to media reports. The event pulled in more than $26 million, according to the campaign. 

LATE NIGHT HOSTS AVOIDING CHANCES TO MOCK BIDEN DESPITE ‘HARD-EARNED REPUTATION AS A GAFFE MACHINE’: REPORT

Harris also headlined fundraising events in her native California earlier this year, where she joined a clean energy leader in San Francisco, before another stop at the home of author Robert Mailer Anderson and Oracle heiress Nicola Miner in the city’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. The Pacific Heights fundraiser cost attendees upward of $100,00 per person, and included support from theater director Jonathan Moscone and Mayor London Breed, as well as a performance from singer Carole King, the San Francisco Standard reported at the time. 

Trump, whose real estate background and reality TV success cemented him in Hollywood’s orbit pre-politics, has also held high-profile fundraisers this election cycle, but seldom with movie elites. Instead, he has held swank events at his Mar-a-Lago estate, met with residents of wealthy areas such as Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, and has attended high-profile public events at Madison Square Garden, but not for fundraising purposes. 

President Biden speaks

President Biden is seen speaking in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Biden previously had a massive fundraising advantage over Trump in the 2024 race for the White House, but recent windfalls following Trump’s conviction in the New York criminal trial have essentially erased Biden’s lead, Fox News Digital reported this weekend. Trump and the RNC notched their second consecutive month in May of outraising Biden and the DNC, all while not yet launching a general election ad buy. Biden’s campaign, conversely, has spent at least $65 million on ad purchases. 

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LATE-NIGHT DNCTV? COLBERT, KIMMEL FUNDRAISE FOR PRESIDENT BIDEN

“The only people in America who support Joe Biden’s failing campaign are elitist Hollywood celebrities,” Trump spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement earlier this month. 

Biden’s ritzy fundraisers were also slammed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed last week by Fox News contributor Daniel Henninger, who noted that after decades of the Democratic Party benefiting from Hollywood money, the 2024 election cycle could change the game for the left-wing party as inflation continues spiraling. 

Demonstrators

Demonstrators rally before President Biden’s fundraiser on March 28, 2024, at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. (Alex Kent/Getty Images)

“The Democratic Party’s celebrity dependency has been background noise for decades and not a problem… until now. This presidential election remains closely contested. With the cost of living the No. 1 issue, each swing-state vote deserves attention. In this high-stakes context, the spectacle of the incumbent president jetting from Europe to Hollywood is the kind of look Mr. Biden and his party don’t need. He’s Hollywood Joe,” Henniger wrote. 

“​​But notice that on the day Mr. Biden tapped the Hollywood ATM, Mr. Trump campaigned at a black church in Detroit. It is becoming hard to suppress the reality reported in polls that Mr. Trump, former host of “The Apprentice,” is peeling off layers of the traditional Democratic coalition – blacks, Hispanics, younger Americans and possibly even Jewish voters. The Democratic base once had something resembling a common identity, but not so much anymore. And it’s getting late to fix that,” he continued. 

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Biden’s campaign did face criticism last month when actor Robert DeNiro headlined a campaign event outside the Manhattan courthouse where Trump faced – and was ultimately found guilty – 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Robert De Niro at Biden presser interacts with protester

Actor Robert De Niro points to a supporter of former President Trump following a news conference outside Manhattan Criminal Court in New York, on May 28, 2024. ( Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Donald Trump wants to destroy not only the city, but the country. And eventually he could destroy the world,” De Niro said at the press conference. Biden and Harris were present during the campaign event. 

Following his remarks, De Niro was shouted down by supporters as a “washed-up actor” and “trash,” and was accused of being a “paid actor for the DNC.” 

“You’re a f—ing idiot,” De Niro shouted at one of the pro-Trump protesters. 

The event was subsequently slammed on social media by critics as a “terrible look for Democrats,” and compared to the satirical political comedy show “Veep.” 

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Fox News Digital reached out to the Biden campaign for comment regarding recent star-studded fundraisers and if they could undercut the president’s “Scranton Joe” image while inflation continues spiraling this election cycle. 

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Politics

‘Coup’ and ‘Cover-Up’: How the G.O.P. Is Reacting to the Harris Candidacy

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‘Coup’ and ‘Cover-Up’: How the G.O.P. Is Reacting to the Harris Candidacy

‘Unfit to serve’

‘Best interest’

‘Proof of life’

‘Far Left Democrats’

‘Resign’

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‘Less competent’

‘Coup’

‘Largest political cover-up’

‘25th Amendment’

‘Rigging’

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‘Where is Joe Biden?’

‘Border Czar’

‘Gaslighting and lying to each of us’

‘Wood chipper to democracy’

‘Who is running the show?’

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‘All the best’

While elected Democrats have been quick to rally around Vice President Kamala Harris after President Biden’s announcement that he would leave the 2024 presidential race, a vast majority of prominent Republicans have treated the development with suspicion or scorn.

A New York Times analysis of statements by Republican senators, representatives and governors found that their reactions to Ms. Harris’s presumptive candidacy and Mr. Biden’s withdrawal clustered around several themes, including the opinions that Mr. Biden must resign or that the events of the past few days amounted to election subversion or a bloodless coup. Recent polling suggests nearly 9 in 10 Americans believe Mr. Biden’s decision to step aside was the right one.

Several officials also suggested that Mr. Biden — who had been in Delaware recovering from Covid-19 but returned to the White House on Tuesday — had gone missing. A greater number made statements attacking Ms. Harris’s record, while a small handful posted positive or supportive comments. Emphasis in these quotations was added by The Times to highlight common themes in the statements.

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65 called Mr. Biden’s withdrawal a coup or said it amounted to election interference.

‘This is a coup of a puppet regime.’

‘While President Trump took a bullet for our democracy, the progressive democrats are taking a wood chipper to democracy by shredding the will of 14 million primary voters.’

‘Now the Democrats are rigging their *own* elections.’

These statements have tended to argue that Mr. Biden’s decision to end his candidacy was not his own, was not democratic or both. Many have mocked Democrats for positioning themselves as “defenders of democracy” in contrast to Republicans, following attempts by former President Donald J. Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

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Some of this language began to bubble up among Republicans even before Mr. Biden announced that he would drop out. During the Republican National Convention last week, Chris LaCivita, a top adviser to Mr. Trump’s campaign, described the pressure on Mr. Biden to withdraw as an “attempted coup.”

97 said that Mr. Biden must resign or be ousted, or that he is unfit for office.

‘Today I’m demanding the Biden Harris cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment. If Biden isn’t capable of being a candidate, he’s not capable of being President.’

‘If Joe Biden is unable to serve another term, then he must resign right now. If he’s unfit to campaign, he should not have the nuclear codes — it’s that simple.’

‘If Joe Biden is unfit to run for re-election then he’s unfit to serve the remainder of his term.’

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Statements along these lines have primarily argued that if Mr. Biden is not able to run for a second term, then he is unfit to continue to serve now. Many said should step down from the presidency. Some have gone further, suggesting that the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Mr. Biden from office.

76 speculated about a high-level conspiracy in the White House about the condition of Mr. Biden’s health.

‘Kamala Harris was complicit in a massive coverup to hide and deny the fact that Joe Biden was not capable of discharging the duties of the office.’

‘The American people should fire every single politician that has been gaslighting and lying to each of us about Biden’s capability to lead our Nation. Kamala Harris is as culpable as Biden’s senior staff and family in this scheme to subvert democracy.’

‘Democrats have been complicit in the largest political cover-up in history.’

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These comments have, without providing evidence, accused Ms. Harris and other top Democrats of a cover-up to hide the state of Mr. Biden’s physical and mental fitness.

18 asked, ‘Where’s Biden?’ or implied that the president had gone missing.

‘Where is Joe Biden? Who is running the show?

‘Americans are asking: Where is Joe Biden?

‘For the third time today, I’m asking Joe Biden to provide the American people with proof of life.’

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Mr. Biden was self-isolating with Covid-19 at his family’s Delaware beach house when he made the announcement that he would step aside from the 2024 presidential race. These comments drew attention to his lack of recent public appearances, in some cases even calling for a demonstration that Mr. Biden was still alive. Mr. Biden returned to Washington Tuesday afternoon and is set to give a televised address this evening.

143 made other statements, mostly attacking Ms. Harris’s record.

‘ “Border Czar” Harris has NOT done her job to secure the border.’

‘Kamala Harris leads the Far Left Democrats’ pro-crime, anti-victim agenda.’

‘Cackling Kamala is widely considered less competent than dementia-impaired Joe Biden.’

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Dozens of Republican officials made more typically political statements, including criticizing Ms. Harris as a candidate. One common line of attack, positing that Ms. Harris failed as a “border czar,” is misleading. (Some Republican candidates have already begun to run ads like this one, drawing attention to some of the more liberal positions Ms. Harris has taken in the past, particularly during her failed 2020 presidential primary campaign.)

And 9 made positive or supportive comments about Mr. Biden’s decision.

‘Fran and I wish President Biden and the First Lady all the best as he serves out the remainder of his term and in the years ahead.’

‘I understand and respect President Biden’s decision not to seek reelection. While we have political differences, I appreciate his lifelong service to our nation, which he dearly loves.’

‘I respect President Biden’s decision to act in the best interest of the country by stepping aside in the 2024 presidential election.’

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A few Republican officials wrote kindly about their relationships with Mr. Biden or sent him well wishes.

In the table below, see which Republican elected officials made which types of statements, as of Tuesday night.

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Anti-Israel agitators descend on DC ahead of Israeli PM Netanyahu's address to Congress

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Anti-Israel agitators descend on DC ahead of Israeli PM Netanyahu's address to Congress

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Anti-Israel demonstrators descended on Washington, D.C., on Wednesday ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress. 

One demonstrator, whose face was covered, was spotted by Fox News carrying what appeared to be the flag of the terrorist group Hamas. 

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Fox News estimates that a few hundred protesters had gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street, outside the Gallery of Art. They have a stage set up in front of the Capitol building and are currently chanting.

The protest organizers include Answer Coalition and Code Pink. There have been numerous speakers from various organizations, including one from the Party for Socialism and Liberation. 

HARRIS BOYCOTTS NETANYAHU, SNUBS ISRAELI LEADER’S WARTIME ADDRESS TO GIVE SORORITY SPEECH

One anti-Israel demonstrator in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday was spotted carrying the Hamas flag.  (Fox News/ Griff Jenkins)

Fox News crews witnessed numerous signs with Netanyahu’s face, labeling him a “Wanted War Criminal.” 

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Even inside Capitol Hill, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., held up a sign that said “war criminal” while listening to Netanyahu’s speech. 

Rashida Tlaib holding up a sign that says war criminal

Rep. Rashiada Tlaib, D-Mich., holds up a sign that says war criminal during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech.  (CSPAN)

Other slogans from protesters on signs included, “Stop the Genocide,” “Stop arming Israel,” and “End all US Aid.” 

Protesters holding up signs

Washington, D.C> protesters holding up anti-Israel signs.  (Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

The crowds have chanted “Free Palestine” and “From the river to the sea…,” an antisemitic phrase that calls for the elimination of the state of Israel. 

Anti-Israel protests in DC

Anti-Israel protesters have gathered in Washington, D.C., ahead of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress.  (Fox News)

The speakers later concluded and the crowd of attendees started walking up Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Netanyahu protesters holding up an effigy

(Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images)

Protesters clashing with police

U.S. Capitol Police officers clash with anti-Israel demonstrators, on the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (Reuters//Umit Bektas))

Protesters waving flags

Anti-Israel protesters march near the US Capitol as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress on July 24, 2024, in Washington, DC. (Photo by ANDREW THOMAS/AFP via Getty Images) (Andrew Thomas/AFP via Getty Images))

Police formed a blockade on the corner of Constitution and Louisiana Avenue, and demonstrators released red and green powder into the air. 

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Police remove DC Anti-Israel protesters blocking traffic

DC Metropolitan Police clear demonstrators from blocking traffic, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Washington, ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit at the U.S. Capitol.  (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)

Some protesters yelled at the police line, “You’re a b—-.” Fox News witnessed pepper spray being used at one point. 

U.S. Capitol Police said six people were arrested after disrupting the joint meeting of Congress on Wednesday afternoon.

Police using pepper spray on protesters

Police use pepper spray as anti-Israel demonstrators as they gather on the day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. (REUTERS/Nathan Howard) (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

“All of them were immediately removed from the Gallery and arrested,” Capitol Police said in a post on X. “Disrupting the Congress and demonstrating in the Congressional Buildings is against the law.”

Capitol Police originally said five people had been arrested, but later updated it, saying, “Our officers just reported that the final number of arrests in the House Galleries was a total of six people for D.C. Code §10-503.16(b)(2), Unlawful Conduct.”

Line of anti-Israel demonstrators in DC street

Demonstrators blocking traffic on Independence Ave., near the National Mall ahead of a scheduled visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the US Capitol, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Earlier, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officers were seen clearing anti-Israel protesters who were blocking traffic in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. 

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Police pepper spraying protesters

U.S. Capitol Police officers use pepper spray on anti-Israel demonstrators, on the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill, in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. (REUTERS/Umit Bektas) (Reuters/Umit Bektas)

Police have taken people into custody near the U.S. Capitol, the Associated Press reported. 

DC officers confront anti-Israel protesters blocking street

DC police begin to clear demonstrators from blocking traffic on Independence Ave., near the National Mall, Wednesday, July 24, 2024, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

A handful of people were led away by officers, while others chanted for them to be released.

Protesters washing pepper spray out of eyes

An anti-Israel protester has his eyes washed after police used pepper spray during anti-Israel demonstrations as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

More than 1,000 people gathered Wednesday morning on Pennsylvania Avenue within sight of the Capitol building, the AP reported. 

Anna Paulina Luna, Rashida Tlaib

At one point Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., was seen speaking with Tlaib. (Getty Images)

A large group of protesters marched toward the Capitol after blocking a nearby intersection and calling for a “student intifada.” 

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Protesters burning effigy of Netanyahu and an American flag

Anti-Israel demonstrators burn a U.S. flag and an effigy depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the day of Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024. REUTERS/Nathan Howard (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

“Shut it down!” they repeatedly chanted.

Protesters burning American flag

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators burn a U.S. flag, on the day of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (Reuters/Nathan Howard)

Pro-Palestinian-demonstrators burning effigy of Netanyahu

Anti-Israel demonstrators burn an effigy depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the day of Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 24, 2024.  (REUTERS/Nathan Howard)

“Bibi, Bibi, We’re not done! The intifada has just begun!” demonstrators shouted, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

Just after 3 p.m., the U.S. Park Police said on social media that a “crowd in Columbus Circle is engaged in criminal activity and confronting law enforcement on scene. USPP is attempting to deescalate and contact the event organizer for help.”

Around 15 minutes later, the Park Police advised that the Columbus Circle protest permit had been revoked, adding “Please leave the area at this time.”

Park Police said just after 4 p.m. that a crowd remained at Columbus Circle, again advising on social media for protesters to disperse. 

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Fox News’ Meghan Tome and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Opinion: The Olympics promise to be socially responsible. How's that working out?

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Opinion: The Olympics promise to be socially responsible. How's that working out?

Olympic host cities make promises that are all but impossible to keep, and in recent years, the organizers’ wishful thinking about housing and neighborhood redevelopment has been one of the cruelest Olympic disappointments. As the 2024 Paris Games approach, we are seeing it all over again — displacement, gentrification and the unhoused “voluntarily” lured elsewhere with assurances of help that never materializes. What will it mean for Los Angeles, when the Games arrive in 2028?

In 2017, when Paris and Los Angeles were the last cities standing as potential Olympic sites — Boston, Budapest, Hamburg and Rome all withdrew — the organizers promised to stage Games that sidestepped the vexing social problems that emerged in Seoul, Rio, Tokyo and London.

Paris bidders vowed to rejuvenate the city’s banlieues, replenishing the housing stock by building an Olympic Village for the athletes in Seine-Saint-Denis, one of Paris’ poorest districts, and converting large swaths of it into so-called social housing. In Los Angeles, then-Mayor Eric Garcetti stated on late-night television, “I’m confident by the time the Olympics come, we can end homelessness on the streets of L.A.”

How has it worked in Paris?

In the lead up to the Games, French security officials are executing a “relocation plan” for the city’s migrants, refugees and unhoused people, expelling them from their encampments and squats — and from fragile connections to jobs and community — and escorting them onto buses that take them to 10 cities around France where temporary shelters and services have supposedly been organized. A government official told the New York Times the number was about 5,000. Human rights groups expect many more of the estimated 100,000 Parisians without steady housing to be exported as far from Olympic venues as possible.

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Officially, the relocations are meant to lessen pressure on the asylum application process and to help migrants more efficiently apply for refugee status. But of course, this is all about optics. Most of those banished from Paris won’t qualify for permanent housing in their new locations, and as for asylum status, one lawyer in France calls the busing program “an antechamber to deportation.”

A recent report by a Parisian group whose name translates as the Other Side of the Medal documented a nearly 39% surge in encampment evictions in the City of Light in the year leading up to the Games, which open Friday. The researchers found that more than 12,500 people were displaced from Paris in 2023-24 alone. They have dubbed it “nettoyage social,” or social cleansing.

The French government has denied a connection between the Olympics and intensified displacement. But an email from a government official, first reported by the French newspaper L’Equipe, stated that the objective of the mass clearances was to “identify people on the street in sites near Olympic venues” and remove them before the Games commence. French National Assembly member Aurélie Trouvé told us that the program “is definitely connected to the Games and the need to offer a ‘clean,’ idealized image, even though it means that thousands of people are pushed afar.”

Trouvé’s district, Seine-Saint-Denis, north of the city center, is the Paris département most affected by the Games. It’s home to a new Aquatic Center and the Olympic Village — block after block of apartments and commercial space constructed on what was industrial land. But it remains to be seen whether it will help the 1.6 million residents of Seine-Saint-Denis, one-third of whom live below the poverty line, or simply push them aside. About 40% of the district lives in social housing; only a quarter of the Olympic Village units are earmarked for that population after the Games.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, the organizers of LA28 have steered clear of direct Games-associated urban renewal — no new venues will be built under LA28’s auspices and UCLA’s dorms and campus will become the Olympic Village.

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And of course, Garcetti’s confidence about a homelessness cure is long forgotten. After Mayor Karen Bass checked out Paris’ preparations earlier this year, she told a reporter she was merely “hopeful” the Olympics would “be a catalyst to L.A. finally addressing homelessness in a way that is long-term, that eventually ends street homelessness.” She did offer this “major commitment”: The unhoused wouldn’t be moved to the hinterlands during the Games.

In December, a year into Bass’s Inside Safe program to address homelessness, just under 2,000 people had been helped off the streets and into hotel rooms. And in June, the city’s Homeless Services Authority announced that the latest point-in-time count found more than 75,000 unhoused residents in L.A. County, down a few ticks for the first time since 2018.

LA28 touts the legacy it will leave for the city and county but in a striking about-face from Garcetti’s optimism, Casey Wasserman, the chairman of the Los Angeles organizing committee, has relinquished all responsibility for helping to reduce homelessness. He told LAist’s Larry Mantle in 2021, “We’re not responsible for solving homelessness. We’re responsible for delivering the Olympic Games as a private enterprise in 2028.”

Wasserman is only being honest. The Olympics can’t solve gentrification, the affordable housing crisis or the needs of the unhoused. That’s not what the Games are created to do. Promises made otherwise should be seen as public relations. That hosting the Olympics may even make matters worse is one reason so many cities were happy to leave the job to Paris and L.A. for 2024 and 2028.

In a few weeks, the hoopla and the tally of gold, silver and bronze medals at the Summer Games will give way to a much more consequential reckoning: Paris’ winners and losers. It seems likely its most vulnerable residents won’t have fared well. Los Angeles should take heed.

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Jules Boykoff, a former professional soccer player, is a political science professor at Pacific University in Oregon. He has written six books on the Olympics. Dave Zirin is the sports editor of the Nation and the author of 11 books on the politics of sport.

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