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Over 200 arrested at Grand Central Terminal during rally for ceasefire in Gaza

Over 200 arrested at Grand Central rally for Gaza ceasefire
Over 200 arrested at Grand Central rally for Gaza ceasefire 02:57

NEW YORK -- Hundreds of demonstrators took over Grand Central Terminal on Friday, calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. More than 200 were arrested. 

Hundreds of demonstrators from a Jewish activist group made their way into Grand Central Terminal's main concourse and staged a sit-in during rush hour.

The group, Jewish Voice for Peace, demanded a ceasefire in Gaza on a day Israeli military forces increased incursions.

"Right now, you are hearing thousands of Jewish New Yorkers who are raising our voices so clear that our safety can never come at the expense of another community's safety," Jewish Voice for Peace spokesperson Jay Saper said.

"So many people are grieving, and we believe that life is precious. And right now, the way that we can take action to save lives, is to have a ceasefire to stop the bombing of Palestinians," said one Israeli American.

Members of the group somehow got on top of a ledge next to the departure sign as NYPD officers from emergency services tried to get them down.

The scene was reminiscent of a protest back in 1991 when Act Up took similar actions inside the terminal.

"We recognize this war for what it is. It's not about protecting Jews. It's not about Jewish safety," demonstrator Jules Rose said.

The sit-in lasted about an hour before police started making arrests. Most of the demonstrators walked away peacefully. 

The demonstration caused service disruption to some lines because officers initially had to restrict access at the main entrance, only allowing ticketed passengers inside the terminal, but the demonstrators found a way to get in.

One passenger said he was not only angry because of delays but also, he says, because the demonstrators aren't talking about what caused the war - the terrorist group Hamas killing 1,400 Israelis and taking others hostage.

"Pre-mediated massacres. God bless you, my son. Hope you see the light," the passenger told a demonstrator.

Demonstrator Sumaya Awad, a Palestinian American, says people in Gaza shouldn't have to suffer.

"There is nowhere to go, and they are being forced to contend with the fact that they're all potentially going to die for something they had nothing to do with," she said.

At the height of the demonstration, stores and restaurants in the terminal shut down. The terminal has since reopened.

In a statement, the MTA says it's disappointed the group chose rush hour to stage a protest when New Yorkers were trying to get home but that it's proud of both MTA officers and the NYPD for their professionalism.

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