SFO protest over Gaza creates chaos at airport

San Francisco International Airport was the site of a demonstration by pro-Palestinian protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza who showed up in force on Wednesday morning, and despite the noise and chaos, flights still took off on time. 

A group called Critical Resistance showed up at SFO about 8:30 a.m. and members held a big black banner that read "Stop the World for Gaza" in front of the TSA security line for the A Gates at the international terminal. 

Activists also locked arms with each other, blocking Gate G at Terminal 1. Others marched in a circle on the road outside the airport, and still others chanted and spoke inside the building. Organizer Joshua Caldwell said about 300 protesters gathered. 

Organizers said the protest lasted 153 minutes, one minute for each day the Israel-Hamas war has lasted. Oddly enough, much of the international terminal remained open for food items and restrooms. 

The demonstrators all cleared out by noon and there was no immediate word of arrests. 

Several travelers were disturbed by the commotion.

"It's not right," Kamaljit Singh said. "It's inconvenient. "If they want attention, they should march at the White House." 

"I think it's a good way to demonstrate your viewpoint on Gaza, but, stopping other people from traveling I don't think is the way to do that," said traveler Preston Peeler.

SFO spokesman Doug Yakel said passengers were being re-routed to avoid the protest. 

Travelers seeking to reach the international terminal were encouraged by SFO to get dropped off at the rental car center and take an air train to the terminal.


Protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza held a demonstration at San Francisco International Airport on March 13, 2024. Photo: Critical Resistance

Other passengers traveling by taxis or rideshare services should get picked up or dropped off at domestic terminals, SFO said. 

Yakel said the protesters were peaceful. 

"The protest leaders we worked with held true to the commitments that they made when they said they were going to finish their activity at a certain time. And, that does require coordination, it does require negotiation. We certainly implemented some alternate plans to get our passengers where they needed to go around this protest activity," Yakel said.

The protest had also not caused any delays to BART service at SFO, the transit agency said.

By about 10 a.m., police had arrived with buses but had not yet been seen arresting anyone, although officers were seen writing tickets to illegally parked cars and towing them away. Caldwell said participants were glad that nobody was arrested and that the group felt it had support for its actions from some travelers. 

By noon, the chanting had stopped and the protesters had all disbursed.  Caldwell said the decision to disperse was made for the safety of protesters, but not because of any specific threat. 

Caldwell said the protesters were Bay Area residents who were not part of any organization or group besides their shared motivation to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. 

There have been protests around the nation and the Bay Area over the treatment of Palestinians in Gaza since the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7.

A massive protest occurred on the Bay Bridge in November 2023 when hundreds of Pro-Palestine protesters tied up traffic during rush hour, calling out to world leaders to end the war during the APEC summit when President Biden was in town. 

Bay City News contributed to this report. 


A woman bangs a drum and speaks in a megaphone at SFO during a Gaza protest. March 14, 2024 


Police cars and tow trucks wait outside SFO during Gaza protest. March 13, 2024 


Protesters take over SFO to demande a ceasefire in Gaza. March 13, 2024


Ceasefire protests at SFO March 13, 2024.