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Protesters demanding Gaza ceasefire shut down US bridge

Nov. 17

Hundreds of Pro-Palestine protesters shut down the Bay Bridge, Oakland, California in North America on Thursday morning, tying up traffic during rush hour and calling out to world leaders to end the war in Gaza during the APEC summit.

The four-hour chaotic event, which started around 7:45 a.m., ended with at least 70 arrests and 29 towed cars. All lanes finally reopened just before noon, but not after at least 200 protesters had chained themselves together and purposefully tossed their car keys into the bay, stalling efforts to reopen the span to frustrated drivers.

The massive commuter stoppage called into question whether the California Highway Patrol was well-prepared, as the APEC summit this week in San Francisco has drawn leaders – and known protests – from around the world.

While the protesters did not throw bottles or rocks or get violent, California Highway Patrol (CHP) Chief Ezery Beauchamp criticized what they did.

The Arab Resource and Organizing Center was among the organizers of the Bay Bridge blockage, demanding a ceasefire, and calling out President Joe Biden to do more for the Palestinians – 11,500 of whom have so far died in the war between Israel and Hamas.

“There’s a genocide happening in #Gaza and @POTUS is hosting cocktail parties in #SanFrancisco,” AROC tweeted. “Bay Area has shut down the Bay Bridge to demand #CeasefireNOW. No more $ for genocide.”

Many chained themselves together, chanting “Free Palestine” and “We want justice.”  They also used a “sleeping dragon” maneuver, handcuffing themselves together with PVC pipe. The move makes it hard for police to cut off their cuffs. The CHP said dozens of protesters threw their car keys into the bay, forcing the vehicles to be towed away, creating more havoc on the bridge.

A KTVU cameraman managed to walk along the span of the bridge, livestreaming video of protesters lying in body bags, with fake blood smeared on them to represent the Palestinian lives lost in the war.

Aisha Mizar, an organizer with the Palestinian Youth Movement, reportedly said they were very excited to be out on the bridge, west of Treasure Island, gaining attention for their cause. She said they would all stay out as long as they could, before they were kicked off.

Speaking on the bridge, Zoe Parsigain said the goal of the event was to demand a ceasefire. “I do think we got the message across,” Parsigain said. “We are so sorry to inconvenience folks. That wasn’t the goal.”

But since Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are in town for APEC, Parsigain said the group “couldn’t let it just be business as usual.”


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