I-Team: No arrests, citations at Palestine protest that blocked traffic near CLE airport

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has asked local law enforcement to explain why no one got arrested, or even got a traffic ticket, during a protest that tied up local highways.

Those traffic jams left many of you outraged. So, we investigated.

It was a protest with a caravan of cars that tied up busy highways for hours. So, why didn’t anyone even get a ticket?

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We checked with Cleveland police and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

On Saturday afternoon, a massive traffic jam developed near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The highway ended up shut down by a group protesting what’s happening in the Middle East.

Before the end of the day, a slow-moving caravan blocked freeway after freeway.

Drivers trying to get to the airport or anywhere else had to sit and wait or go out of their way.

The Highway Patrol confirmed troopers did not arrest or ticket anyone. The patrol said the Cleveland Police Department was the lead agency.

The chief’s office confirmed police also did not arrest or ticket anyone. Now, a police department spokesman told us the city is reviewing how the overall incident was handled.

Sgt. Freddy Diaz issued a statement. It read:

On March 9, 2024, the Division of Police responded to a call for service near Cleveland Hopkins airport involving dozens of vehicles occupied by adults and children, causing a disturbance. The caravan proceeded to drive through various parts of the county, including streets and highways. At certain points, the caravan stopped on the highway and streets, disrupting traffic flow, causing delays and creating a potential risk of serious physical harm.

Ensuring the safety of our community is our Division’s top priority. It is crucial to recognize that when children are part of the scenario, immediate action may not always be the ideal approach. Considering the emotional complexity surrounding such protests, which often extend beyond our direct control, we emphasize the value of prioritizing de-escalation as the primary strategy for handling such incidents to protect all individuals involved.

Throughout the de-escalation process during this incident, efforts were made to minimize the impact on traffic delays and prevent potential criminal activity. Alongside prioritizing safety, we remain dedicated to upholding established laws. In alignment with this commitment, this incident remains an ongoing investigation upon which we cannot comment further.

Statement from Cleveland Division of Police spokesperson Sgt. Freddy Diaz

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A 911 caller said, “And, I’m stuck in the middle of a Palestine protest. And, I’m not quite sure what to do. These people are yelling and screaming and getting out of their cars.”

Another 911 caller said, “They have all this place blocked out here. Trying to get through. There’s no way to get out of here.”

Protesters on the same issue have also recently jammed City Hall — sometimes week after week.

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