Protesters block traffic on San Mateo Bridge; 68 arrested

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ByAlan Wang KGO logo
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Protesters block traffic on San Mateo Bridge; 68 arrested
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There were 68 protesters that were arrested Monday evening after blocking traffic and demonstrating on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

FOSTER CITY, Calif. (KGO) -- There were 68 protesters arrested Monday evening after making their way on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge late Monday afternoon and stopping traffic. The ordeal closed lanes for nearly two hours, snarling the evening commute, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The group made their way on eastbound and westbound lanes of state Highway 92 on the bridge at the high-rise around 4:50 p.m., CHP Officer Daniel Hill said.

The protesters had been dropped off by cars on westbound lanes and briefly made their way to both sides of the freeway, he said.

The Stanford student protesters unraveled a giant Palestinian flag to highlight Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s message against all oppression, including the Palestinian struggle.

The symbolism went unnoticed by Jessica Chinchilla who just wanted to meet her trainer at the gym.

"I literally was on empty. I even had to call 511 because I was about to stay on the bridge," she said.

Michelle Dominguez was more concerned about getting to the airport, and less concerned about the message protesters were trying to send.

"Well my flight was supposed to leave at 6:40 p.m., so I'm pretty much losing my flight," she said. "Well, I definitely believe that people should stand up for what they believe in. But of course protests are never convenient."

As of shortly after 5 p.m., eastbound lanes were reopened for motorists heading to Hayward but westbound lanes were still closed off for cars traveling to Foster City, Van Eckhardt said.

There were 30 CHP patrol units sent to the bridge to clear the protesters, Van Eckhardt said.

Around 5:15 p.m., the far left lane on the westbound side was reopened to traffic, CHP officials said.

The group was given the opportunity to leave the scene peacefully, but 68 people who didn't comply with orders from officers were detained and later arrested.

As of about 6:10 p.m., the arrested protesters were still on the bridge waiting to be transported to San Mateo County Jail, according to Hill. They are expected to face charges of disobeying a lawful order of a peace officer and obstructing the free movement of others, Hill said.

The protesters were peaceful and did not become violent, according to Hill.

Two other westbound lanes remain closed until 6:40 p.m. but traffic remained heavy on the bridge, CHP officials said.

Protesters unfold a Palestinian flag and block traffic on the westbound side of the San Mateo Bridge. (Jan. 19, 2015/ABC7 News)