Gaza protest calling for cease-fire blocks access to SFO International Terminal for several hours

BySuzanne Phan KGO logo
Thursday, March 14, 2024
Gaza protest blocks access to SFO terminal for several hours
Hundreds of protesters demanding a cease-fire in Gaza blocked the International Terminal at SFO for several hours on Wednesday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Hundreds of protesters demanding a cease-fire in Gaza blocked the international terminal at SFO for several hours on Wednesday.

Protesters were inside and outside the terminal. Inside, the protesters were blocking security check-in entrances at Gates A and G and holding banners that said "Stop the World for Gaza," "Permanent Ceasefire Now" and "Stop Arming Israel."

More activists were outside, blocking the roadway and marching in circles with flags and signs.

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Airport officials said that checkpoints at the international terminal reopened by noon, but asked people to allow for extra time.

Vehicles blocking access to the terminal were towed.

Throughout the protest, which lasted several hours, the terminal remained open but passengers were rerouted around the activity.

Jennifer Trang of BayArea4Ceasefire gave this statement:

"We don't want to be here. We have tried everything. We have met with elected officials, written letters, and passed city-wide resolutions. We have taken to the streets. We have sounded the alarm in the media. The world has denounced the Israeli war against Palestinians in Gaza and our politicians continue to fuel and fund this genocide. We need a permanent ceasefire and an end to the siege on Gaza now. So many lives have been lost and so many more are at stake, and we cannot sit idly by as our government is complicit in arming and justifying these atrocities against Palestinians in this moment, and for the past 75-years. As people of conscience, it is a necessity for us to take action to stop this escalating genocide."

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Demonstrators said Wednesday's protest at SFO was part of a global day of action to demand a permanent cease-fire in Gaza and an end to U.S. financial support for Israel military.

"We wanted to say no business as usual today as long as there's a genocide. As long as people are being murdered by the tens of thousands," said Mohamed Shehk, a demonstrator from the Bay Area.

Travelers, flight crews, and people coming and going through the area faced various detours and delays.

"They blocked the road so we were stuck there for almost 25 minutes," said Mike Chalan of Burlingame.

"I think it just annoys people. I understand the issue. I don't think it's the right way to do it," said Jeff Bowyer.

Demonstrators say the airport protest was about forcing people to take notice.

"We know there were people that were inconvenienced; we want to make sure our message be heard loudly and clearly," said demonstrator Mohamed Shehk. "This is our way to tell the political leadership of the country that we don't want billions and billions of dollars in military aid going to fund the weapons. That are causing massive destruction and massacres."

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Airport officials say passengers were rerouted from the international terminal to other terminals.

A large number of uniformed officers were also on standby.

"We also took advantage of light rail air train system. We also set up a remote drop-off area for passengers that might normally be coming to this terminal," said Doug Yakel, a spokesman for SFO.

Some travelers say their minor inconveniences were worth it for the greater cause.

"This should be happening. We need some sort of reform. I think this is a good thing, the protest," said Savannah Munoz, a Bay Area resident.

After nearly three hours, demonstrators walked out of the terminal.

"We hit the 158-minute mark. Which is just over two to three hours. The significance of that is that today marks 158 days of this genocide," said Shehk.

At the end of the day, airport officials say things ended peacefully. No one was arrested and no flights were delayed. It's a scenario they say they've planned and practiced for.

"What we are trying to accomplish here is provide for the free speech activities, but at the same time, ensure the safety of our passengers and make sure the passengers can still get through the airport process," said Yakel.

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