Home » San Francisco protesters who blocked bridge to demand Israeli cease-fire will avoid jail time

San Francisco protesters who blocked bridge to demand Israeli cease-fire will avoid jail time

by John Jefferson
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Dozens of protesters who stood across a California bridge, shutting down traffic for several hours as they called for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, will not have to serve jail time, prosecutors said.

In lieu of a criminal proceeding, the 78 protesters were ordered to do five hours of community service and pay restitution for blocking the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge during a protest in mid-November.

“This is a victory not only for those exercising their right to protest a genocide being fueled by their tax dollars, but for the growing global movement demanding freedom for the Palestinian people,” said Aisha Nizar, one of the protesters. “We emerge from this case even stronger and more united in our commitment to one another and to the people of Palestine.”

Approximately 200 total protesters participated in the Nov. 16 protest in San Francisco as the city was hosting President Biden and other world leaders for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

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The protesters blocked all lanes of traffic into San Francisco on the bridge’s upper deck and demanded that Biden call for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Some drivers even tossed their keys into the bay.

As a result of the protest, 80 suspects were arrested and 29 vehicles were towed.

The suspects faced charges of false imprisonment, refusing to comply with a peace officer, unlawful public assembly, refusing to disperse and obstruction of a street, sidewalk or other place open to the public.

Protester holding a sign

Prosecutors ultimately dropped one case for insufficient evidence, according to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. Another person declined the court’s pretrial diversion program.

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The remaining 78 accepted the court’s offer, which will include each person paying a to-be-determined restitution.

“We remain committed to ensuring that San Francisco is a safe city for everyone who lives and enters our city,” District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a statement. “We will continue to ensure that appropriate avenues for the expression of free speech and social advocacy exist and are protected in San Francisco. I truly believe that we can achieve engaging in free expression while maintaining the safety of our communities.”

Police, protesters

Similar protests blocking major roadways and calling for a cease-fire were similarly carried out in Los Angeles, New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilians and combatants in its total.

Negotiations between Israel and Hamas for a potential cease-fire or potential long-term peace remain ongoing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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