WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday condemned demonstrators tearing down photos of Israeli hostages, calling it “wrong and hurtful” in a social media post shortly after sidestepping the question in a news briefing.
“As a result of the Hamas terrorist attacks, communities and families are grieving,” she said in a post 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, garnering widespread media attention.
Jean-Pierre’s comments on X come after she deflected a series of questions by NBC News’ Peter Alexander during the daily White House briefing when he asked whether the White House views the 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 being 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.”
When pressed on whether the White House considered the poster incidents “deeply concerning,” Jean-Pierre instead referenced reporting about violent protests and threats.
“I can speak to the frequency of threats that we’re seeing to 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 gonna to work on focusing on that.”
When asked later during 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.