Pro-palestinian Protesters Blocked Major U.s. Airports, Highways and Bridges

Pro-palestinian Protesters Blocked Major U.S. Airports, Highways and Bridges

On Monday, pro-Palestinian protesters blocked roads in Illinois, California, New York, and the Pacific Northwest. This temporarily stopped traffic at some of the country’s busiest airports, on the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridges, and on a busy highway on the West Coast.

Protesters in Chicago linked arms and blocked lanes of Interstate 190 that lead to O’Hare International Airport around 7 a.m. They said the action was part of a global “economic blockade to free Palestine,” and one of the leaders, Rifqa Falaneh, confirmed this.

Traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was backed up for hours because protesters blocked all car, foot, and bike traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and chained themselves to 55-gallon drums full of cement across I-880 in Oakland. As the protesters marched into Brooklyn, they stopped traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge going to Manhattan. In Eugene, Oregon, protesters stopped Interstate 5, which meant that no one could drive on the main highway for about 45 minutes.

Protesters say one reason they picked O’Hare was because it is one of the biggest airports. They have asked for a stop to the war between Israel and Hamas right away, among other things.

Protesters against the war have been in Chicago almost every day since Hamas’ attack on southern Israel on October 7 that killed about 1,200 people. Since then, Israeli airplanes and ground troops have been bombing the Gaza Strip like crazy.

The health minister in Gaza says that the Israeli offensive has killed more than 33,700 Palestinians. As it counts the dead, the ministry doesn’t tell the difference between civilians and fighters. It just says that two-thirds of the dead are women and children.

Users of the social networking site X were told by O’Hare to find other ways to get to their destinations because car travel was “substantially delayed this morning due to protest activity.”

Some tourists who were stuck in traffic got out of their cars and walked the last few miles to the airport along the freeway, pulling their bags behind them.

Madeline Hannan from a neighborhood in Chicago was one of them. Her husband and she were on their way to O’Hare for a business trip to Florida when their car broke down for twenty minutes. “Both ran and speed walked” for more than a mile after she got out. She said she just barely got to the gate on time.

In a phone chat from Florida, she said, “This was a bother.” “But in the big picture of what’s going on overseas, it’s not a big deal.” The Chicago Department of Aviation says that while some travelers may have been impacted, airport operations seemed to be running about normally, with delays of less than 15 minutes.

Around 9 a.m., traffic coming into O’Hare started going again.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said that the main road to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was stopped near Seattle because of a protest. People standing on the highway with a placard and Palestinian flags were shown on social media. The highway reopened about three hours later.

The Golden Gate Bridge protest saw about 20 people jailed, and the California Highway Patrol says traffic started going again soon after noon. The agency said that police were making arrests at two locations on the road. At one location, about 300 protesters refused to leave when they were told to.

The agency said in a statement, “Trying to block or shut down a freeway or state highway to protest is illegal, dangerous, and keeps drivers from safely getting where they need to go.”

Oregon State Police said 52 protesters were held for being disorderly after the protest on Interstate 5 in Eugene, Oregon, which is about 177 kilometers (110 miles) south of Portland. Six cars were taken away from the scene.

Many people were arrested by the New York Police. Around 3:15 p.m., 150 protesters joined the march, but that number quickly grew. By 5 p.m., the bridge was fully open again.

Falaneh says that dozens of protesters were held in Chicago. On Monday, Chicago police said that “multiple people” were arrested after a protest where people blocked traffic, but they didn’t have a full count.

This story was written by Janie Har in San Francisco, Claire Rush in Portland, Oregon, Pat Eaton-Robb in Hartford, Connecticut, and Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu. All rights reserved 2024 The Associated Press. All rights are reserved. You can’t print, broadcast, rewrite, or give this information to other people without permission.

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