Protesters demanding a cease-fire in Gaza shut down westbound traffic on the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Thursday morning, interrupting Bay Area commuter traffic into San Francisco.
The demonstration was one of the most disruptive protests so far associated with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in San Francisco, where pro-Palestinian activists have focused on trying to capture the attention of President Biden. Mr. Biden addressed the APEC meeting on Thursday.
Other groups of activists have protested against President Xi Jinping of China over independence for Tibet, human rights abuses against Uyghurs, military activity around Taiwan and what they view as a lack of progress among a host of world leaders on climate change and workers’ rights.
Pro-Palestinian protesters said that they drove their own cars onto the bridge from the East Bay, stopped before the midpoint on Treasure Island and blocked all lanes headed into the city. Fifteen protesters covered themselves in shrouds and laid down in front of vehicles to represent dead bodies in Gaza.
The blockade, which the California Highway Patrol first noted at 7:42 a.m., led to miles-long traffic jams along freeways stretching into the East Bay.
Lujain Al-Saleh, a 29-year-old who lives in Oakland, said in a telephone interview that she was protesting because her cousin, a journalist and the father of a baby girl, was killed in Gaza last month when his home was hit by bombs.
Pete Woiwode, an organizer, said the protesters would remain on the span “until removed or a cease-fire is called.”
Police began towing the protesters’ cars after about 90 minutes, and arrested at least 50 people.