Here's what protesters could face for blocking off Bay Area freeway, bridge

A total of 38 people were arrested after blocking off traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and I-880 in Oakland for hours.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Here's what protesters could face for blocking off Bay Area roadways
Here's what pro-Palestinian protesters could face for blocking off the Golden Gate Bridge and Interstate 880 in the Bay Area.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Pro-Palestinian protesters shut down the Golden Gate Bridge and Interstate 880 in Oakland for hours as part of a worldwide economic blockade calling for a cease fire in Gaza.

On Monday, 38 people were arrested. A similar disruption happened last year during the APEC summit.

For hours, the Golden Gate Bridge and I-880 were blocked by the protesters. On the bridge, CHP reported protesters used their vehicles to chain themselves

RELATED: 38 Pro-Palestinian protesters arrested after shutdown of Golden Gate Bridge, I-880 in Oakland: CHP

"These are not just simply people blocking the road. I understand that from the I-880 corridor you saw those black barrels that had been filled with cement and we are also dealing with individuals on the Golden Gate Bridge who are utilizing vehicles as devices for slowing it down," said CHP officer Andrew Barclay.

A frustrated driver was caught confronting protesters.

"If we can tolerate this particular type of protesting and if we allow those individuals to engage in such disruption without any form of accountability, then we can absolutely expect more of the same in the future," said professor Greg Woods, Department of Justice Studies San Jose State University.

MORE: New CA bill would double penalties for protestors who obstruct traffic, highways

Professor Woods categorized Monday's actions as illegal.

"Without the benefit of a license to engage in protest at these particular locations, these individuals are engaging in trespass," said professor Woods.

Monday's demonstrations are a flashback to nearly five months ago when 80 protesters were arrested on the Bay Bridge calling for a cease-fire in the Middle East while President Biden was in San Francisco for the APEC summit.

VIDEO: Around 80 protesters arrested after abandoning cars, blocking westbound Bay Bridge, CHP says

One of dozens arrested during the Bay Bridge protest was a mom that was stuck in traffic headed into San Francisco for work.

"The question is, what is it that we demand from local law enforcement? And also those district attorneys that are going to ultimately going to have the responsibility to respond to this type of mass movement," said Professor Woods.

After the 2023 Bay Bridge demonstration, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins charged 80 protesters with five misdemeanors.

"It remains to be seen whether Brooke Jenkins will use the same tactic in which she charged this large group of people all with five different misdemeanors including false imprisonment. It was overcharged and it was very unusual that they were all charged together," said Rachel Lederman, senior counsel with the center for protest law and litigation.

Recently, DA Jenkins agreed to dismiss the criminal case against those 80 protesters. In exchange, protesters would need to complete five hours of community service. Their attorney says they are following the agreement.

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

During last year's protest, UCSF transplant organs were delayed by the Bay Bridge protest. On Monday, the San Francisco Fire Department said they didn't get any 911 emergency calls but they were ready.

"If there is an emergency the fire department can coordinate with law enforcement and possibly get an escort for closed lanes on the opposing side of the roadway to reach you and extricate you safely and move you out of harm way and get you into the ambulance or out of the situation if necessary, said Justin Schorr, rescue captain with SFFD.

On I-880, CHP said there were hundreds of protestors and 12 were arrested. On the Golden Gate Bridge, CHP said 26 were arrested and taken into custody.

Last year, DA Jenkins charged 80 protesters with several charges including false imprisonment, refusing to disperse and refusing to comply with a peace officer. Experts believe that could potentially be the case this around.

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