DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES -- DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip walked onto the 110 Freeway in downtown L.A. on Wednesday morning and forced the closure of all southbound lanes, all of which were later reopened.
The demonstration on the freeway began shortly after 9 a.m. and brought traffic to a standstill on one side of the freeway. Northbound traffic was not affected.
California Highway Patrol officers were at the scene as several violent skirmishes broke out among frustrated drivers and the protesters, who were seated in a row that spanned across the southbound lanes. An occasional motorcycle would break through the line and drive onward on the empty freeway ahead.
A 7-foot tall makeshift menorah was erected as one of the demonstrators used a bullhorn to address the others.
Shortly before 10 a.m., CHP officers began approaching the protesters individually, tying their hands with zip-ties and taking them into custody without incident. After being detained, the activists were each placed in one of the two-dozen Highway Patrol cruisers and cargo vans that were parked on the freeway.
The CHP later confirmed that 75 people involved in the protest were arrested.
Southbound traffic was backed up past Dodger Stadium and the 5 Freeway interchange as the sit-in continued. About 11:30 a.m., the Highway Patrol reopened all freeway lanes to drivers.
"As American Jews, we refuse to be silent," the activist group IfNotNow LA said in a statement released Wednesday morning. "We demand an end to the financial support of Israel's occupation and documented war crimes, including the indiscriminate mass murder of over 18,000 Palestinians and the forced displacement of 1.9 million civilians."
Many drivers who were stuck in the gridlock expressed frustration, but others expressed sympathy for the cause.
"It's always a hassle. It's L.A. Traffic is always going to happen, but this is important right now. The world needs to know and see that this is important," a woman named Beatrice told Eyewitness News.