Dozens of protesters organized by a progressive Jewish activist group calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip blocked the southbound 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles for over an hour on Wednesday morning, bringing traffic to a standstill.
Police were notified about the protest just after 9 a.m., according to California Highway Patrol Officer Roberto Gomez. All six southbound lanes were blocked, Gomez said.
Shortly after 10 a.m., CHP officers were detaining the protesters, leading them to over two dozen police cruisers on the freeway. Behind them, a miles-long traffic jam snarled the morning commute through downtown, south of the interchange with the 101 Freeway.
A protester with his arms bound behind his back said “Free Palestine” when asked for comment as officers led him away.
A tow truck was called to remove vehicles left by protesters and blocking traffic on the 110. By around 10:30 a.m., the last protester had been led away and two lanes of traffic had been reopened.
Authorities arrested 75 protesters for failure to comply with a dispersal order, and the freeway was expected to be fully reopened by noon, according to the CHP.
In videos posted by organizers IfNotNow, the protesters stretched across the freeway wearing black shirts emblazoned with the slogan “Not In Our Name” on the front and “Jews Say Cease Fire now” on the back.
They sang “cease-fire now” and lighted a seven-foot menorah as cars waited helplessly behind them.
In a statement to the media, the group wrote that its members “demand an end to the financial support of Israel’s occupation and documented war crimes.”
In helicopter video from KCAL News, several angry drivers were seen skirmishing with protesters before law enforcement arrived. A man pinned a protester up against the hood of a car while others yelled. They grabbed and pushed protesters, throwing some of their signs across the freeway.
The protest is one in a string of actions in favor of ending Israel’s bombardment of Gaza in the two months since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.
Another protest organized by the group shut down a Hollywood intersection in mid-November, and during President Biden’s visit to Los Angeles last week, over 1,000 pro-Palestinian protesters gathered at Holmby Park, across from the site of a fundraiser.
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