USF Reacts to Golden Gate Bridge Shutdown

Pro-Palestinian protesters also shut down the Golden Gate Bridge on Feb. 14, according to CBS News. Screenshot courtesy of @jersey.noah on Instagram.

On Monday, Apr. 15, dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters blocked traffic for more than four hours on the Golden Gate Bridge, beginning just before 8 a.m. “California Highway Patrol reported that twenty-six people were arrested for illegally stopping traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and were transported via bus to the San Francisco Hall of Justice for booking,” the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District stated on Apr. 17.

The protest was one of three in the Bay Area occurring on Apr. 15, tax day, to protest U.S. tax dollars being spent in support of Israel. Every year, the U.S. provides Israel “$3.3 billion in foreign military financing every year,” a Mar. 29 segment from the National Public Radio found

More recently, as of Apr. 20, as reported by the Associated Press, the U.S. approved “about $26 billion for supporting Israel and providing humanitarian relief for people in Gaza… more than $9 billion of the total would go toward humanitarian assistance in Gaza.”

Protesters on the Golden Gate Bridge chained themselves to each other using PVC pipe, a method referred to as the “sleeping dragon” protest strategy, which aims to make the user’s removal from the protest site harder. On Oakland’s I-880 highway, protesters chained themselves to barrels filled with concrete. 

As protestors carried a sign calling to “Stop the World for Gaza,” the bridge shut down garnered international media attention, with articles being published in the Monaco Matin, Yahoo News UK, and the Times of India.

As ABC7 reported, commuters were frustrated after being stuck on the bridge for hours. Some even cited missing medical procedures like stem cell replacement and colon surgery.  

Being that many students on-campus are engaged with pro-Palestinian activism, as previously reported in this publication, the Foghorn asked USF students their thoughts on the effectiveness of this controversial form of protest and the political ramifications around it.  

Katie Thurman, a junior politics major said, “I definitely understand [complaints about the bridge protesters] because… a lot of people that vote are very reactionary because they don’t know a lot about a cause. So… seeing [the protests], if they’re being inconvenienced, it’s going to feel like an attack against them rather than awareness. But I think ultimately discomfort is the only way to change. And I think if you don’t [protest like] this, then… it’ll be easier to tune it out essentially.”

Aniya Williams, a sophomore media studies major, said, “I think [the protests are] allowing us to pay more attention, because I know there’s a lot of people who would choose to ignore [the movement]. We are forcing people to look at what our country is doing to the Palestinian people.”

The 26 arrested protesters are facing a variety of misdemeanor charges, including “unlawful assembly, remaining at an unlawful assembly, refusing to comply with a lawful order, unlawful stopping on a bridge, unlawfully being a pedestrian on a freeway, impeding an officer… and false imprisonment,” as reported by CBS News Bay Area. These misdemeanor charges accompany one felony charge of conspiracy.

San Francisco’s District Attorney Brooke Jenkins has since encouraged people who were affected by the bridge’s shut down to file a report to Marin County authorities, saying that they “might be entitled to restitution and have other victims’ rights” in a press conference.

In the Apr. 16 press conference, Jenkins said, “I want to make clear that San Francisco, as well as myself as the District Attorney, support free speech. We support those who want to make sure that their first amendment rights are observed and that their point of views are heard. But where we must draw the line is when acts of free speech endanger public safety.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom also spoke out about the protest, telling reporters, “I certainly respect the cause around the cease-fire… but I think there’s a better way of expressing it than denying people the ability to get to work, someone in an emergency that can’t get to their destination.” He also said that the protesters “need to be held to account for their actions,” according to the Chronicle.

As of Apr. 17, the 26 arrested protesters were released without charges, though the California Highway Patrol and District Attorney’s office are still reportedly pursuing charges against them.  

Iman Moaddeli, a sophomore international studies major, said, “People [should] have the right to organize and assemble and to protest. [The DA’s announcement is] what will turn people off from the movement. Like, ‘Oh, if I engage in these activities, I will be charged as a criminal.’ So it’s really just serving to dissuade people from continuing to mobilize and speak out against the United States funded genocide.”

According to the International Court of Justice, the judicial branch of the United Nations, it was deemed “plausable” that Israel is committing a genocide in Gaza in a preliminarily ruling.

Moaddeli said, “I think it’s necessary to continue this kind of momentum because we are… watching a genocide unfold. It should not be business as usual while there’s genocide happening, especially genocide that we are paying for. Like there’s blood on all of our hands… And that is our moral obligation to disrupt and demand divestment and free Palestine.”

Editor-in-Chief: Megan Robertson, Chief Copy Editor: Sophia Siegel, Managing Editor: Jordan Premmer, News Editor: Niki Sedaghat

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *