Watch CBS News

Pro-Palestinian protesters in San Francisco shut down Central Freeway entrance at Octavia

Pro-Palestinian protesters choose Presidents' Day to call for a cease fire in Gaza
Pro-Palestinian protesters choose Presidents' Day to call for a cease fire in Gaza 02:40

Pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a cease fire in Gaza briefly closed the Octavia entrance to U.S. Highway 101 in San Francisco Monday afternoon, according to authorities.

The San Francisco Department of Emergency Management posted on social media about the protest march shortly after 2 p.m. Monday, advising people to avoid the area of the Central Freeway from Duboce Ave. to Octavia Blvd. due to a civic demonstration. 

The pro-Palestine protest march started with a rally at Civic Center Plaza at noon and was planned by the Arab Resource and Organizing Center. 

Raw: Pro-Palestinian protesters in San Francisco march onto Central Freeway entrance 03:43

Video from the scene showed hundreds of protesters marching west on Market St. and turning onto the freeway entrance. The protesters marched up the on-ramp towards the U.S. 101 and I-80 split, with some of the protesters reportedly making their way to I-80 connector.

Police and CHP are at the scene. CHP later confirmed that police activity on the westbound I-80 connector ramp to northbound U.S. 101 in San Francisco was completely blocked at around 2:12 p.m. However, within 20 minutes, most of the protesters had been cleared from the freeway and the entrance was reopening to traffic, according to reports at the scene. 

Caltrans confirmed that all lanes had reopened by 3:12 p.m., about an hour after the incident started.

Some protesters talked about the reasons behind their civil disobedience.

"Ultimately we can't celebrate President Biden on Presidents Day when this genocide is happening and when he is supporting it and when his administration is supporting it. As a Palestinian we want him to hear us," said Lujan Al-Saleh, a member of Arab Resource and Organizing Center. 

Al-Saleh said she has been to over a dozen pro-Palestine protest. She says being here feels like she is making a difference for those who can't.

"There are families and all types of people here from all backgrounds of life, and this is what has been keeping me going," she said.

One attendee who did not wish to identify themselves said the protest was asking not only for a ceasefire, but to end aid given to Israel, citing that funds could be used for other areas.

"We could use the tax money that is going over there to bomb babies to help make our society a better and stronger place." Like help problems right here in San Francisco, the protesters said. 

The protest march onto the freeway comes less than a week after a pro-Palestinian protest briefly blocked all traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge last Wednesday.

In November, pro-Palestinian protesters blocked all westbound lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for hours during the morning commute. Some 80 demonstrators were arrested and more than a dozen vehicles used to block the lanes were towed.  

Drivers are advised to expect traffic delays in the area and to use alternate routes.  

Lezla Gooden contributed to this story.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.