Gaza Ceasefire Protestors Strike Deal after Massive Bay Bridge Blockade Jams Traffic for Hours

By Vy Tran

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Seventy-eight of 80 protestors from a Bay Bridge protest on Nov. 16, 2023, were sentenced here in San Francisco County Superior Court to complete five hours of community service in exchange for dismissal of criminal charges and an agreement of paying $4,448 in restitution as a pretrial diversion deal last week.

Aisha Nizar, one of the protestors, stated that “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.”

According to the District Attorney’s Office, the protesters who agreed to complete community service must do so within two months. If any of them are arrested during the diversionary period, the court can resume the criminal proceedings, reports Stephanie K. Baer from the San Francisco Standard.

Protestors from Black.Seed in the 2023 demonstration shut down the Bay Bridge during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference, according to Baer.

In light of calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, demonstrators were charged with “false imprisonment, refusing to comply with a peace officer, unlawful public assembly, refusing to disperse and obstruction of street, sidewalk or other place open to the public.”

This protest marked the longest Bay Bridge shutdown since 2016, to the point where “driving lanes became walking lanes” for four hours before any enforcement arrived, according to one commuter.

Baer reported 250 law enforcement officers—including California Highway Patrol and sheriff’s deputies from Alameda and San Francisco counties—swarmed the bridge to end the traffic shutdown. CHP arrested 67 women and 13 men related to the incident. The California Department of Education reported 29 vehicles were towed.

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins explained how her office is currently handling cases for the two protestors who did not accept the pretrial diversion deal. The DA is dismissing “charges against one other defendant, while another declined the offer and is expected in court for an arraignment on April 15,” according to the San Francisco Standard.

“The Bay Bridge protests are part of a long legacy of people of conscience who have used civil disobedience to bend the arc of history toward justice,” said Jeff Wozniak, a SF public defender, adding, “We will continue to vigorously defend all people who take bold action to demand justice and bring an end to this genocide.”

“We remain committed to ensuring that San Francisco is a safe city for everyone who lives and enters our city,” 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.”

Added Nizar, “We emerge from this case even stronger and more united in our commitment to one another. And to the people of Palestine.”

About The Author

Vy Tran is a 4th-year student at UCLA pursuing a B.A. in Political Science--Comparative Politics and a planned minor in Professional Writing. Her academic interests include political theory, creative writing, copyediting, entertainment law, and criminal psychology. She has a passion for the analytical essay form, delving deep into correlational and description research for various topics, such as constituency psychology, East-Asian foreign relations, and narrative theory within transformative literature. When not advocating for awareness against the American carceral state, Vy constantly navigates the Internet for the next wave of pop culture trends and resurgences. That, or she opens a blank Google doc to start writing a new romance fiction on a whim, with an açaí bowl by her side.

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