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CHP finally clears pro-Palestinian protesters from I-880 in Oakland; all lanes reopened

Team Coverage: Cease fire protesters shut down Golden Gate Bridge, I-880 in Oakland for hours
Team Coverage: Cease fire protesters shut down Golden Gate Bridge, I-880 in Oakland for hours 07:32

Authorities were finally able to clear two separate pro-Palestinian protests that closed lanes on I-880 in Oakland in both directions for hours starting Monday morning, according to CHP.

The protest was among multiple demonstrations blocking freeway traffic in the Bay Area, with another group of activists blocking southbound traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge starting at around 8 a.m. That protest would shut down the entire span.

CHP initially reported an accident at 23rd Ave. at around 6:15 a.m. blocking northbound lanes of the freeway, according to a sig-alert.

A short time later, KCBS Traffic posted on social media that there was additionally a protest in the area that blocked all northbound lanes.

The protest was in the area of 5th Ave., according to reports.

The post said there were reports of barrels in the roadway as well as people on lawn chairs sitting between the barrels that were all chained together. The post did not indicate what was being protested, but there were reports of a banner being displayed that read "A-15 Economic blockade for a free Palestine."

CHP confirmed there were about 15 protesters blocking northbound 880. Video from the area indicated that southbound lanes were not blocked, though traffic was slowing as cars passed the protest.

Barrels chained to Gaza protesters filled with concrete and rebar used to impede law enforcement by KPIX | CBS NEWS BAY AREA on YouTube

CHP and Oakland police officers were at the scene in force to respond to the protest and clear lanes.

As of shortly after 7 a.m., the back-up on I-880 was stretching from Oakland to San Leandro.

Video showed police working to cut through the chains and steel barrels that the protesters were linking arms through so they can safely be removed.

At around 8:15 a.m., another group of protesters blocked the southbound direction of I-880 at 7th Street near the Port of Oakland and Jack London Square. The group of demonstrators on foot at that location grew to approximately 300 over the course of the morning, CHP said later.

The protests also closed all lanes of the eastbound and westbound I-80 connector ramps to southbound I-880 in Oakland.   

By 11 a.m., one lane of northbound 880 near the 23rd Avenue protest has reopened and one lane of southbound 880 near the 7th Street protest had reopened.

Shortly before 12 p.m., CHP confirmed that two lanes of traffic in the northbound direction had been reopened hours after the protest started. It was still another 90 minutes before authorities were able to completely reopen the northbound lanes.

At around 12:40 p.m., authorities said one lane of southbound I-880 between 7th and Broadway had reopened.

A short time later, it appeared CHP had cleared the protesters from the southbound lanes of I-880, backing them down onto freeway onramps. CHP did not announced that all southbound lanes of I-880 reopened until around 2:15 p.m. The eastbound and westbound I-80 connector ramps to southbound I-880 were reopened at about 2:40 p.m. A total of five protesters were arrested among the demonstrators who blocked traffic on southbound I-880.

Among those stuck in the backup included Sal Valencia, a construction worker who had been rushing to bring materials to a job in Hayward when he became stuck.

"At the beginning I was kind of afraid, I didn't know what was going on. I was afraid for my life." Valencia said.

He was stuck on the freeway for a total of five hours. 

"Basically this is not fair for a lot of people that are going to work, They're trying to make some money and look what happened? This is just, to be honest, ridiculous," Valencia went on to say.

Valencia, who said he has not followed the events in the Middle East, believed that the protesters were not achieving their goals.

"It's not helping. To me, this is not helping," he said.

During an afternoon press conference to address CHP response to the demonstrations, a spokesperson said that the protesters made a coordinated effort with the northbound I-880 blockade, using a truck to transport 55-gallon drums filled with cement, rebar and heavy-duty chains to make it more difficult for law enforcement to remove the activists from the roadway.

The demonstration blocking northbound I-880 near the Embarcadero began at about 6 a.m. CHP were able to initially reopen lanes at 10 a.m. with all lanes reopened by 1:15 p.m. A total of seven protesters were arrested at that location. 

The protesters arrested are facing a variety of charges, including unlawful assembly, remaining at an unlawful assembly, refusing to comply with a lawful order, unlawful stopping on a bridge, unlawfully being a pedestrian on a freeway, impeding an officer, conspiracy to commit a crime and false imprisonment. 

The actions were planned as part of an "economic blockade" coordinated with similar protests around the world with disruptions happening in New York and Chicago. Protesters are hoping to target "the global economy for its complicity in Israel's ongoing genocide against the Palestinian people," organizers under the banner A15Action said.  

Back in November, a large group of protesters shut down the westbound Bay Bridge as President Joe Biden and other world leaders visited the Bay Area for the APEC Summit. Last month, dozens of those protesters were able to reach a deal with a judge to avoid jail time

A similar protest blocked traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge last February. 

According to Bay City News Service, an additional protest is planned for noon at UN Plaza and Market and Hyde streets in San Francisco, by the Group Code Pink. An action by the A15Action group is also planned at 5:30 p.m. at the Tesla factory in Fremont.

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