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San Francisco to prosecute pro-Palestine demonstrators who blocked Bay Bridge
By Ramon Tomey // Dec 22, 2023

Authorities in San Francisco have commenced procedures to press charges against pro-Palestine protesters who blocked the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge in November.

On Dec. 15, the office of San Francisco District Attorney (DA) Brooke Jenkins said the 80 individuals involved in the protest would be charged with five misdemeanors each. The charges are as follows:

  • false imprisonment
  • refusing to comply with a peace officer
  • unlawful public assembly
  • refusing to disperse
  • obstruction of streets, sidewalks, or other places open to the public

The Nov. 16 protest organized by the groups IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace Action blocked all lanes of westbound traffic into the City by the Bay for more than four hours. It also coincided with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in the city, which was graced by President Joe Biden and other world leaders.

Participants called for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel ("stop funding genocide!"). However, the protesters reportedly refused to comply with the demands of law enforcement officers. They also illegally obstructed streets and sidewalks.

Seventeen of the 80 defendants appeared before the California Superior Court on Dec. 18, with none entering pleas. Meanwhile, their supporters gathered at the steps of the courthouse and held a press conference. They voiced their demands with chants and banners that called for a "free Palestine" and a ceasefire in the affected region, alongside calls to drop the charges against the 80. (Related: Israel's GENOCIDE in Gaza leads to rising global pro-Palestine sentiment.)

Interestingly, the San Francisco DA did not announce the charges in a public press conference. Her office instead sent a statement to reporters on Dec. 15. She wrote: "While we must protect avenues for free speech, the exercise of free speech cannot compromise public safety."

Protest delayed delivery of human organs for transplants

"The demonstration on the Bay Bridge that snarled traffic for hours had a tremendous impact on those who were stuck on the bridge for hours and required tremendous public resources to resolve," Jenkins wrote. The San Francisco DA thanked the California Highway Patrol and the San Francisco Sheriff's Department for their help in dispersing the gathering.

The protest delayed the delivery of multiple human organs for transplant surgeries to and from hospitals under the University of California, San Francisco system, putting recipients at risk of complications. The Chronicle added that the westbound lanes blocked by the protesters reopened around noon of the same day.

Oakland criminal defense attorney Rebecca Feigelson remarked that the city's legal action against the protesters won't end in prison terms for the defendants. She added that those charged will most likely pursue "diversion" programs that would result in charges being dropped entirely. Judicial diversion programs often mandate a defendant to perform community service, write a reflective essay to the judge or both.

"These cases are most likely going to go to judicial diversion" over the objections of prosecutors, said Feigelson, who has worked on failure to comply and false imprisonment cases. "I would suspect most do not have a criminal history – and arguably, they are participating in civil disobedience, trying to effectuate in their minds positive change."

Head over to Revolt.news for more stories about Palestine protests across the country.

More related stories:

Around 300 people arrested after Jewish group organizes sit-in on Capitol Hill calling for a ceasefire.

Thousands protest across Middle East in support of Palestinians amid ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict.

Student groups call for the targeting of Israeli CIVILIANS in pro-Palestine "Day of Resistance" protests.

Jews against GENOCIDE: Protestors amass around home of NY Sen. Chuck Schumer to call for CEASEFIRE in Israel-Hamas war.

Anti-war Code Pink group calls Israel an occupying force – "U.S.-backed Israeli apartheid regime inflicts daily settler violence and terror on Palestinians."

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