SAN FRANCISCO - A group of protestors gathered to support the 78 people who were arrested after a pro-Palestine demonstration that shut down the Bay Bridge for several hours last month.
Arraignments began on Monday morning for the protestors who were arrested, now referrered to as the "Bay Bridge 78." A group of at least 50 people gathered outside the San Francisco Hall of Justice. Many people wore keffiyehs and held up Palestinian flags. A large banner read "Biden: Ceasefire now!" behind them as they stood on the steps.
Those who gathered are calling for San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins to drop the charges against the protestors and for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war.
So far, the district attorney has charged 17 of them with false imprisonment, unlawful public assembly, and refusing to disperse.
"While we must protect avenues for free speech, the exercise of free speech cannot compromise public safety. 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 said in a statement.
Members of the coalition Bay Area Labor for Palestine attended Monday's rally in support of the demonstrators; the rally was organized by a grassroots effort to support the 78 protesters who are facing charges.
"Bay Area Labor for Palestine is a coalition of union members and staff that have come together for three demands: a ceasefire, an end to U.S. military aid to Israel and an end to the occupation of Palestinian lands," an organizer with the group said. "In the labor movement we live by the principal that an injury to one is an injury to all."
The demonstration that earned the protestors their name caused a full closure of the Bay Bridge during rush hour traffic during the week of the APEC summit. In what the California Highway Patrol called a "well-planned effort," the protestors drove out into the middle of the bridge before chaining themselves together and tossing their keys into the bay waters.
Some drivers behind the protest ended up trapped on the bridge in their cars for hours with nowhere to go. The demonstrators were eventually detained and placed on buses to be cited and released.
The other demonstrators will be in court all this week.