Pro-Palestinian protests close the Golden Gate Bridge

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down the Golden Gate Bridge and some of the US’s biggest airports and major highways.

Traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was snarled for hours as demonstrators shut down all vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and chained themselves to 55-gallon drums filled with cement across Interstate 880 in Oakland.

About 20 protesters were arrested at the demonstration on the bridge and traffic resumed shortly after noon on Monday, according to the California Highway Patrol. The agency said officers made arrests at two points on the interstate, including one spot where roughly 300 protesters refused orders to disperse.

“Attempting to block or shut down a freeway or state highway to protest is unlawful, dangerous, and prevents motorists from safely reaching their destinations,” the highways agency said in a statement.

Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco: protesters stop traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge

Further north on the west coast in Eugene, Oregon, protesters blocked Interstate 5, shutting down traffic on the major highway for about 45 minutes. The Washington State Department of Transportation said a demonstration near Seattle closed the main road to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Social media posts showed people holding a banner and waving Palestinian flags while standing on the highway, which reopened about three hours later.

Protests also took place in Oakland and Los Angeles.

Protestors blocked traffic on Interstate 880 in Oakland calling for a ceasefire in Gaza
Oakland, California: Protesters block traffic on Interstate 880 - Bronta Wittpenn
Demonstrators hold a 'strike for Gaza' protest in Los Angeles
Los Angeles: Demonstrators hold a 'strike for Gaza' protest - ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

On the other side of the country, protesters marching into Brooklyn blocked Manhattan-bound traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge. New York Police made numerous arrests, saying 150 protesters were initially involved in the march at around 3.15pm, but that number quickly grew. The bridge was fully reopened by 5 pm.

A protester with a green pro-Palestinian headband is arrested on Wall Street in New York
New York: a protester with a green pro-Palestinian headband is arrested on Wall Street - Syndi Pilar/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

There was also disruption in Chicago where protesters linked arms and blocked lanes of Interstate 190 leading into O’Hare International Airport at 7am. The demonstration was part of a global “economic blockade to free Palestine,” according to Rifqa Falaneh, one of the organisers.

Protesters say they chose O’Hare partly because it is one of the busiest airports in the country. They called for an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

A pro-Palestinian protester is taken into custody in Chicago
Chicago: a protester is taken into custody - Jacek Boczarski/Anadolu via Getty Images

Anti-war protesters have demonstrated in Chicago nearly every day since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel that killed around 1,200 people. Israeli warplanes and ground troops have since conducted a military campaign in Gaza. That offensive has killed more than 33,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but claims women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

O’Hare airport warned travellers on X, formerly known as Twitter, to take alternative forms of transport with car travel “substantially delayed this morning due to protest activity”.

Some travellers stuck in traffic left their cars and walked the final leg to the airport along the freeway, trailing their luggage behind them.

Among them was Madeline Hannan from suburban Chicago. She was headed to O’Hare for a work trip to Florida when her and her husband’s car ended up stalled for 20 minutes. They both got out and “ran and speed walked” more than a mile. She said she only just made it to the gate on time.

“This was an inconvenience,” she said. “But in the grand scheme of things going on overseas, it’s a minor inconvenience.”

While individual travellers may have been affected, operations at the airport appeared near normal with delays of under 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Inbound traffic toward O’Hare resumed at around 9 am.

Dozens of protesters were arrested in Chicago, according to protest organisers. Chicago police said that “multiple people” were taken into custody after a protest where people obstructed traffic, but they did not have a detailed count.

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