IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

White House condemns demonstrators ripping down posters of Israeli hostages

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre denounced the actions after she avoided questions from NBC News about them at a White House news briefing.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during the daily press briefing in Washington, DC. on Nov. 7, 2023.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at the daily news briefing Tuesday in Washington, D.C.Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images

WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday condemned demonstrators tearing down photos of Israeli hostages, calling it "wrong and hurtful" on social media shortly after she sidestepped the question at a news briefing.

"As a result of the Hamas terrorist attacks, communities and families are grieving," she said on X. "For the past month, the families of those who have been taken hostage have lived in agony. Tearing down pictures of their loved ones — who are being held hostage by Hamas — is wrong and hurtful."

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war last month, artists have created posters calling attention to the 240 hostages held in Gaza. The posters feature photos, names and ages of hostages and say “kidnapped,” in bold, uppercase letters at the top. Videos have circulated on social media of demonstrators ripping down the posters, drawing widespread media attention.

Jean-Pierre commented on X after she deflected a series of questions from NBC News' Peter Alexander, who asked at the daily White House briefing whether the White House views tearing down posters as a form of peaceful protest or something that should be condemned.

"I’m just not going to go into specifics on that particular thing," Jean-Pierre said after having been asked the question twice. "What I can say, there are real but violent protests and threats that are happening right now. And senior administration officials are aware of these reports, which are deeply concerning, and that is something that we’re focused on."

Pressed about whether the White House considered the poster incidents "deeply concerning," Jean-Pierre referred to reporting about violent protests and threats.

"I can speak to the frequency of threats that we are seeing to the Jewish community, to the Arab American community, to the Muslim communities in the United States since October 7th; that is something that I can speak to. And obviously DOJ and FBI are working with law, local law enforcement, on those, on those threats. And, of course, that is deeply concerning to us," she said. "And so that is what we’re going to, to work on focusing on that."

Asked later at the briefing whether President Joe Biden thinks it is appropriate for people to put painted red handprints on the outside of an entrance to the White House grounds, Jean-Pierre replied, "Obviously not."

Painted red handprints were left on a fence marking an entrance to the White House during a rally in support of Palestinians on Saturday.

Jean-Pierre has come under scrutiny for her responses to other questions about the Israel-Hamas war.

Asked at an Oct. 23 news briefing about Biden's level of concern about the potential rise of antisemitism, Jean-Pierre said the White House has not seen "any credible threats."

"I know there’s been, always questions about credible threats. And so, just want to make sure that that’s out there," she said. "But, look, Muslim and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate-fueled attacks."

She later posted a different response on X.

"To be clear: the President and our team are very concerned about a rise in antisemitism, especially after the horrific Hamas terrorist attack in Israel," she said in the post.

Jean-Pierre told other media outlets that she misheard the question at the briefing.