A tense confrontation broke out between pro-Palestinian demonstrators and riot police outside US President Joe Biden’s campaign event near Detroit on Thursday afternoon.
The standoff lasted more than 30 minutes as dozens of protesters stood inches away from local law enforcement officers. Teams of riot police wearing helmets and carrying sticks were brought in to reinforce them.
Some organizers repeatedly asked the crowd to lock arms and advance toward the police line, forcing officers to take a few steps back.
The demonstration remained peaceful and riot police moved away about 20 minutes after arriving at the scene. The president’s motorcade did not pass by the demonstrators when he left.
Biden, who is seeking a second four-year term, has faced intense criticism in recent months from Arab and Muslim Americans over his response to the outbreak of the recent war between Israel, a close ally of the United States, and the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Who rules the Gaza Strip. Michigan could be crucial to Biden’s re-election chances this year because it is home to the largest population of Arab Americans of any state in the running.
On Thursday, protesters were chanting “Joe genocide” and “Hey Joe, listen to our demand, you have blood on your hands” as the president held a campaign event at a UAW facility near Michigan’s largest city. They were calling on people to vote “disengaged” in the state’s Democratic presidential primary on February 27 and to vote against Biden in the nation’s presidential election on November 5.
Amir Nadal, a 34-year-old Palestinian-American who works in the technology industry, said he voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election but “absolutely won’t do it” in 2024.
“We need to send a clear message to Joe and to this administration that this is unacceptable,” Nadal told ABC News.
Salma Hamami, a 22-year-old Palestinian-American who teaches at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said the Biden administration’s policies on the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas prompted her to participate in Thursday’s demonstration.
“Joe Biden brought me here today. He believes he is welcome in one of the largest Arab-American communities in the United States,” Hammami told ABC News. “We are here to tell him that he will never be our primary choice when we vote in the election in November, as long as he has blood on his hands.”
This article originally appeared on abcnews.go.com