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Golden Gate Bridge protesters released after SF DA Jenkins asks for more conspiracy evidence

More than two dozen protesters who blocked the Golden Bate Bridge for hours as part of Monday's disruptive demonstrations got out of jail Tuesday after the San Francisco's district attorney said she's not ready to file charges.

It's up to the district attorneys in Alameda and San Francisco counties to weigh the charges against the 38 protesters arrested for shutting down traffic on parts of Interstate 880 and the Golden Bate Bridge Monday.

It was part of a nationwide economic protest against the war in Gaza.

The CHP suggested the protesters could face serious charges including felony conspiracy based on their tactics that included chaining themselves to cars and barrels filled with concrete.

Outside the jail, supporters showed up to call for the protesters release prior to them being set free. It was a second day of protest, this time demanding the 26 people arrested on the bridge be released with no charges.

"We are here demanding that no charges are filed, and that everybody is immediately released,"  said a protest supporter who gave her name as Brigit.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to discuss the case prior to releasing the protesters.  

San Francisco DA Brooke Jenkins talks about planned release of Golden Gate Bridge protesters by KPIX | CBS NEWS BAY AREA on YouTube

"At this time we anticipate having to send the case back to the CHP for continued investigation," Jenkins explained.

She said it was the felony conspiracy charge that required her to take action within 48 hours. She noted building that case will take more time.

"We have to be able to attribute specific conduct to specific individuals,"  Jenkins said. 

She also said that none of these arrested Monday were among those arrested last year on the Bay Bridge. The agreement that kept those defendants from serving jail time required them to stay out of trouble. And Jenkins sought to clear the record on that agreement.

"That was that was not an offer by the prosecution," she added. "That was an offer by the judge, which they accepted. So we played no role in that agreement that was formed between the court and those defendants."

The felony charge could also land at a judge's discretion, but Jenkins said her office is pursuing the case.

"Anyone who was falsely imprisoned on the Golden Gate bridge on April 15, 2024, is urged to contact the California Highway Patrol," Jenkins said. "We must make sure public safety is observed, and that is what we are committed to doing. But at this time we have to make sure this investigation is completed."

In a press release and on social media, Jenkins instructed those who were stuck on the Golden Gate Bridge to call CHP at 415-924-1105 or via email at  

Governor Gavin Newsom also commented on the protests while in Marin Tuesday.

"I'm proud of the CHP," said Newsom. "It wasn't easy work."

The governor said while he respected the cause, he did not support the protest.

"I don't think that's helpful," Newsom said. "I don't think that's responsible. I think there are better ways of protesting. So no, I hope we don't see it again. And I do think people need to be held to count for their actions."

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito referred to the Golden Gate Bridge protest during a discussion about the January 6th case Tuesday, an indication of the amount of attention being paid to protests in the Bay Area and around the country. 

As for what happens next, District Attorney Jenkins said the further investigation of the case could take just a matter of days.

CBS News Bay Area asked the office of Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price about whether she would be charging the protesters arrested in the I-880 demonstration with conspiracy. On Wednesday, she released the following statement:

"The Alameda County District Attorney's Office is in ongoing communication with investigators from the California Highway Patrol regarding the recent protest on I-880. Our prosecutors are standing by and prepared to receive case information for individuals arrested during that incident. While my office supports the essential right to protest, it is important to note that public safety should never be compromised in exercising the First Amendment right of free speech guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution."  

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