A group of protesters calling for a cease-fire in the war in Gaza on Thursday gathered near the White House and the U.S. Capitol ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress to show their opposition to the president’s handling of the ongoing conflict.

Protesters blocked Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., along the route Biden’s motorcade usually takes from the White House to the U.S. Capitol, reportedly forcing the president to take a longer route.

Demonstrators staged a sit-in on Pennsylvania Avenue, with many holding banners reading “CEASEFIRE” and “BIDEN’S LEGACY IS GENOCIDE,” as they demanded an end to the violence that has so far killed over 30,000 Palestinians, according to local officials.

This comes as talks between Israel and Hamas for a temporary truce ahead of the holy month of Ramadan have so far stalled. A Hamas spokesperson said those talks would continue next week, according to The Associated Press.

Hundreds of demonstrators demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip unfurled a large Palestinian flag and staged a sit-in on a major roadway President Joe Biden would normally use to reach the U.S. Capitol, just minutes before he is set to address a joint session of Congress on March 7, 2024.
Hundreds of demonstrators demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip unfurled a large Palestinian flag and staged a sit-in on a major roadway President Joe Biden would normally use to reach the U.S. Capitol, just minutes before he is set to address a joint session of Congress on March 7, 2024.

Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

Hundreds of demonstrators demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip unfurled a large Palestinian flag and staged a sit-in on a major roadway President Joe Biden would normally use to reach the Capitol building, just minutes before he is set to address a joint session of Congress on March 7, 2024.
Hundreds of demonstrators demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip unfurled a large Palestinian flag and staged a sit-in on a major roadway President Joe Biden would normally use to reach the Capitol building, just minutes before he is set to address a joint session of Congress on March 7, 2024.

Celal Gunes/Anadolu via Getty Images

A pool report prepared by reporters traveling with the president said his motorcade did not pass by “any large protest groups” on its way to the Capitol but said protesters could be heard from the White House during his departure.

Earlier Thursday, according to The Washington Post, police arrested a man “who allegedly revved” his car’s engine toward those gathered to call for an end to the war.

“I’m only 18 years old! I’m only 18 years old!” the man was heard shouting, the Post reported.

A young man drives his Fort convertible right in front of a protest where advocates of a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war protest at different locations in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 2024. The man was immediately surrounded by law enforcement and arrested.
A young man drives his Fort convertible right in front of a protest where advocates of a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war protest at different locations in Washington, D.C., on March 7, 2024. The man was immediately surrounded by law enforcement and arrested.

Astrid Riecken/The Washington Post via Getty Images

On the House floor, progressive lawmakers, including Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), the only Palestinian-American representative in Congress, and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) held signs reading “lasting ceasefire now” and “stop sending bombs,” respectively.

Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) hold up signs reading "Lasting Ceasefire Now" as President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on March 7, 2024.
Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) hold up signs reading “Lasting Ceasefire Now” as President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill on March 7, 2024.

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Bush also brought Intimaa Salama, a master’s student at St. Louis University who was born and raised in Gaza, as her guest at Thursday’s event.

Salama, who has lost 35 members of her family since the war began, told HuffPost’s Rowaida Abdelaziz the White House has “blood on its hands” over its approach to the conflict.

“They can’t undo this, but they have the power and responsibility to save lives,” Salama added.

Some lawmakers also wore white labels with the number “153” written on them, in reference to the number of days Hamas has held on to hostages it took during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which also killed about 1,200 people.

Apart from Washington, protesters took to the streets in cities across the country, including Los Angeles and Boston, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Biden during his address said he has ordered the U.S. military to establish a temporary port in Gaza to increase the flow of urgently needed humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians.

This comes as a movement for Democrats to vote “uncommitted” in primaries to send a message to Biden over his handling of the war has been picking up steam. Over 19% of voters in Minnesota’s primary on Super Tuesday voted “uncommitted,” after about 12% of Michigan Democrats did the same last week.

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