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Gaza protest shuts down Golden Gate Bridge for hours, causing gridlock on both sides of span

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

The Golden Gate Bridge reopened to traffic early Monday afternoon following a pro-Palestinian protest that shut down the span in both directions for hours, according to CHP.

CHP reopened the bridge to southbound traffic shortly after 12:15 p.m., while northbound traffic was held for several minutes as authorities cleared their staging area that occupied those lanes as police and CHP officer arrested protesters. Both directions were reopened by around 12:20 p.m.

"I'm sympathetic and I understand the cause," explain Scott. A driver stuck on 101.  "I do. I just wish I'd left 20 minutes earlier. I would have missed all of this."

Just short of the bridge, in a sea of cars going nowhere. One driver trying to reach family on the other side.

"I'm gonna try to get through," Scott said. "My daughter needs me. She's got four little ones there and I'm supposed to be helping take care of them while she's working."

The hours dragged on. People began walking pets, and striking out for supplies.

"Our poor Uber driver," said Brianna & Brienne, two passengers visiting from out of town.

And amongst the crowds a constant chatter about the protest that had stuck them all here. Some were sympathetic.

"Yes it's an inconvenience," Brienne added. "But it's also inconvenient to be inconvenient to a human being in Gaza right now."

"Stop arming Israel," said Sloan Cooper, looking at news of the protest on his phone as he stood by the bridge. "Which I think we should stop arming Israel. So I'm in support of that."

There was also plenty of frustration.

"My thing is civil liberties should be protected, but there is a limit," said John Fassero. "When you have this level of disruption in the transportation system, I think we need to draw a line."

The bridge protest was the second demonstration to impact traffic on Bay Area freeways. It was first reported shortly after 8 a.m., hours after a pro-Palestinian protest closed all lanes on I-880 in Oakland.

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

Southbound traffic on the span was at a standstill with traffic backing up through the Robin Williams Tunnel and well past Sausalito on southbound 101, CHP said.

There was also word from CHP that protesters were also trying to block traffic on the northbound side, though vehicles initially seemed to be getting across the span in that direction.

Chopper footage of the protest on the Golden Gate Bridge showed protesters with a banner that read "STOP THE WORLD FOR GAZA" across the southbound lanes. There was no traffic seen in the video moving in the northbound lanes. 

While the protesters were only occupying southbound lanes on the bridge, CHP may have closed the northbound lanes as authorities attempt to clear the protest.

Shortly before 10:30 a.m., video from chopper showed protesters being detained, but the bridge remained closed. Drivers in the southbound back-up on Highway 101 were being instructed by CHP to turn around as authorities tried to clear some of the traffic from the freeway.

At around 11:45 a.m., CHP confirmed that 20 people had been arrested total in the two protests. By noon, tow trucks were beginning to remove the vehicles that protesters had blocked lanes with from the bridge.

Chopper shows a pro-Palestinian protester being detained by officers on the Golden Gate Bridge, April 15, 2024. CBS

CHP later confirmed they arrested 26 protesters at the Golden Gate Bridge protest. The protesters used chains concealed in pipes to connect themselves to each other, slowing the process of clearing the demonstration. A total of four vehicles were impounded, CHP said.

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.  

A similar protest blocked traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge last February. However that protest did not result in any arrests and only closed the freeway briefly.  

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.

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. Another demonstration by the A15Action group is also planned at 5:30 p.m. at the Tesla factory in Fremont.  

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