Motorists delayed by Golden Gate Bridge protest might get 'restitution,' San Francisco D.A. says

The Dutch tall ship Stad Amsterdam sails under the Golden Gate Bridge in this view from Sausalito, Calif., Sunday, March 24, 2024. The ship is sailing for Honolulu and then Tokyo, continuing on its world tour. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

People who were trapped on the Golden Gate Bridge for hours Monday during a pro-Palestinian protest might be considered victims, entitled to "restitution," San Francisco Dist. Atty. Brooke Jenkins said.

In a post on the social media platform X, Jenkins urged those affected by the bridge closure to contact the California Highway Patrol and detail "what happened to you + contact info so you can be alleged as a victim."

A total of 26 people were arrested Monday as part of a protest that shut down the landmark for hours.

As around the country, such protests have been on the rise in California since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel and Israel's forceful response, resulting in demonstrations on streets and bridges and confrontations at city council meetings. Demonstrators have targeted the homes of prominent politicians, including Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as the home of a UC Berkeley law professor. Even the graduation ceremony at USC has been affected, with the university canceling a Muslim valedictorian’s speech at its May commencement due to safety concerns.

The protest on the bridge Monday was part of a series of coordinated demonstrations organized by A15 Action, an international campaign calling for a general economic blockade to draw attention to the war in Palestine.

According to the organization's website, the events were organized "with the aim of causing the most economic impact."

In a statement, Jenkins said the prosecutor's office had to "protect avenues for free speech," but said protesters on Monday "unlawfully shut down traffic and trapped hundreds of people."

It's unclear what kind of "restitution" people affected by the protest would be eligible for, but Jenkins cited California's Marsy's Law, which states that victims who "suffer losses" as a result of criminal activity can receive restitution from the person convicted of the crime.

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California Highway Patrol Officer Darrell Horner told SFGate that investigators were still hearing from people who were on the bridge Monday, including people who were stranded with no restroom, people who missed medical appointments, and others who were unable to get to work.

According to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, about 112,000 vehicles travel across the bridge each day.

Jenkins' office did not immediately respond to questions about the restitution.

In the statement, Jenkins pointed out that the Monday protest was "part of a larger, coordinated, set of international demonstrations that also included the unlawful shutdown of other major public thoroughfares in the Bay Area."

Those actions included a simultaneous takeover of a section of Interstate 880 across the bay in Oakland, resulting in 12 arrests.

The 26 people arrested in the Golden Gate Bridge disruption were booked on multiple misdemeanor charges and a single felony charge of conspiracy, Jenkins said in the statement.

Prosecutors are still determining if other charges might be filed, according to Jenkins' statement.

In a statement posted on Facebook, A15 Action called the conspiracy charges "unfounded" and an intimidation tactic to "keep peaceful protesters detained for nearly 48 hours."

"Such threats are a form of state violence that seeks to chill the exercise of First Amendment rights," the statement read.

In the post, the organization said the protesters had been released.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.