81 Arrested as Bay Bridge Protest Causes Major Delays
During the morning rush hour on Thursday, a group of protesters caused significant delays and disrupted traffic on the Bay Bridge, resulting in the arrest of 81 individuals. The protest, which received coverage from local TV news outlets, involved participants from various organizations calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. The westbound lanes of the bridge were blocked by protesters shortly before 8 a.m.
Unlawful Demonstration and Arrests
The protest attracted attention as footage showed protesters chanting, tying themselves together with chains, and performing a ‘die-in’ by lying down with white sheets that read “Stop the genocide.” California Highway Patrol officers deemed the demonstration unlawful and took action by arresting the protesters using zip ties and transporting them in buses. “We are 100 percent in support of people’s rights to exercise their First Amendment, but this is the wrong way to do it,” stated California Highway Patrol Chief Ezery Beauchamp during a briefing.
Consequences and Charges
San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto reported that one protester remains in custody, while the others have been cited and released. The arrested individuals are now facing charges of unlawful assembly and failure to disperse, both misdemeanors, according to the sheriff. The protest occurred amidst the weeklong Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco and followed a series of demonstrations across the Bay Area related to the event.
Protest Details and Organizers
The protest was organized by multiple groups, including the Palestinian Youth Movement and the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC Bay Area). AROC posted on X (formerly Twitter) that the Bay Bridge was blocked “in defense of Palestinian liberation!” and criticized President of the United States, @POTUS, for hosting cocktail parties while a “genocide” is happening in Gaza. The protest was aimed at demanding an immediate ceasefire.
Traffic Impact and Abandoned Vehicles
Bart Ney, spokesman for the California Department of Transportation, warned that the protest would affect traffic throughout the day. By noon, all westbound lanes on the bridge had reopened, but California Highway Patrol officer Adib Zeid confirmed that several vehicles needed to be towed. Many protesters who participated in the demonstration had thrown their keys into the Pacific Ocean, exacerbating the delay. Ney disclosed that 29 abandoned vehicles were towed off the bridge, which sees more than 280,000 vehicles crossing daily.
Protest Planning and Response
Despite the protesters’ well-organized efforts, California Highway Patrol Chief Ezery Beauchamp assured that law enforcement was prepared for the event. He acknowledged that walking on the Bay Bridge was a common tactic used by demonstrators to disrupt traffic, but emphasized that such activities were unacceptable. “You can protest your First Amendment rights, but not on the Bay Bridge,” Beauchamp firmly stated.
Read More of this Story at www.usatoday.com – 2023-11-18 12:30:12
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