15,000 protesters take to the streets and freeways of SF, rally for cease-fire in Gaza

Tara Campbell Image
Sunday, October 29, 2023
15K protesters march in SF, rally for cease-fire in Gaza
More than 10,000 protesters marched in San Francisco Saturday in support of the Palestinian people and called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Flags were waving and people were chanting.

"We are here in the thousands today to call for a cease-fire," said community organizer Rami Abdelkarim.

People took to the streets of San Francisco Saturday, calling in support of Palestinians.

"The situation in Gaza right now is extremely dire and horrendous. People in Gaza don't have water, food or fuel," Abdelkaim said.

RELATED: Israeli defense minister says Gaza war has entered new stage with expanded ground operation

Protesters marched down Market Street, making their way to the Central Freeway. Police temporarily closed the ramps.

A group, demanding an end to the Israel-Hamas war, shut down traffic on the Central Freeway in downtown San Francisco for about 90 minutes Saturday afternoon, the California Highway Patrol said.

The large demonstration on city streets moved onto the freeway about 4 p.m., shutting down a quarter-mile section from the South Van Ness/Mission exit to the Octavia/Market exit, said CHP Officer Mark Andrews, a spokesman for the highway patrol's San Francisco Area Office.

"This event is organized by a coalition of organizations in the Bay Area. Whether they're Palestinian, whether they're Black and indigenous, we all came out in the Bay Area in about in a crowd of 15,000," Abdelkaim said.

Many of those who marched had family in Gaza.

RELATED: Israel steps up air and ground attacks in Gaza and cuts off the territory's communications

SABRINA SHIHADEH, EAST BAY RESIDENT: "We don't know what happened to them. If they're still alive, or they're being killed. We don't know.

TARA CAMPBELL: "When was the last time you heard from them?"

SHIHADEH: "We haven't heard, like, maybe three weeks."

The images, she says, are haunting and hard on her daughter.

MORE: 1,500 Bay Area students walk out, calling for ceasefire in the Middle East

"It's traumatizing just hearing about it. Like imagine being there right now," Sofie Ghandour said.

But still, she watches -- waiting and hoping.

"I do want to see it, because I want to be updated on who's there and what's going on there. And if any of my relatives are still alive or not," Ghandour said.

And for some, it's about showing up simply to support.

MORE: Hundreds of UC Berkeley students hold walkout, calling for cease-fire in Gaza

"I think I have just been really struggling with seeing the news over the past few weeks. And I wanted to just be around people who also care about what's going on," said Cyndi Chen, Berkeley resident.

"The world is watching a genocide unfold," Lara Kiswani, executive director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, said in a press release. "We are taking a stand to say no to genocide, no to war, no to invasion. Ceasefire now."

The demonstration affected U.S. Highway 101 at northbound Highway 101 at the split between the highway and Interstate Highway 80, according to a public alert from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. The department said the highway was reopened about 5:30 p.m., but advised drivers to expect continued delays.

Bay City News contributed to this report.

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