Protesters Calling for Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Shut Down 110 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles

Protesters Calling for Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Shut Down 110 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles

Vehicles make their way down the 110 freeway toward downtown L.A. during the morning commute in Los Angeles on April 22, 2021. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service

12/13/2023

Updated: 12/13/2023

LOS ANGELES—Several dozen protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war blocked all traffic on the southbound Harbor (110) Freeway in downtown Los Angeles for more than an hour Dec. 13, snarling traffic for miles and sparking some physical confrontations with frustrated motorists trying to get the group off the highway.
The protest erupted shortly after 9 a.m. on the southbound 110 Freeway south of the Hollywood (101) Freeway.
KNX News reported from the scene that protesters appeared to get out of cars on the freeway. The protesters then walked across all lanes, initially chanting “shut it down” then eventually linking arms and sitting in a line across the freeway, blocking all traffic. The group later erected a large menorah on the freeway while chanting slogans such as “Ceasefire now.”
With all traffic blocked, some frustrated motorists got out of their vehicles or off their motorcycles and physically confronted some of the protesters. Video from the scene showed several shoving matches, and at least one fight in which a person was thrown onto the hood of a car.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers quickly intervened and tried to restore order. At least two motorcyclists, however, appeared to force their way through the protest line and rode away south.
Traffic backed up for miles on the 110 Freeway, with the backup also impacting traffic on the 101 and Golden State (5) Freeways. Surface streets in the area also quickly flooded with traffic as motorists scrambled to find a way around the mess.
The highway patrol declared an unlawful assembly on the 110 Freeway shortly before 10 a.m., and officers using zip ties began arresting the protesters and escorting them to waiting patrol cars.
None of the protesters appeared to resist arrest in any way, and all of them were in custody by about 10:20 a.m.
CHP officers could also be seen taking people into custody amid some of the stopped vehicles, possibly for being involved in the protest by driving participants onto the roadway. It also appeared CHP officers were working to remove some vehicles—possibly used by protesters—from the freeway at the front of the line of halted vehicles.
CHP officials told reporters on the scene that 75 people in total were taken into custody.
Shortly after 10:30 a.m., the CHP reopened three southbound lanes of traffic, and the jam of vehicles slowly began moving again. All lanes were reopened by 11:30 a.m.
A group called IfNotNow Los Angeles had announced plans for a downtown protest Wednesday morning calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war, although the organization did not indicate it intended to shut down the freeway. The group stated the protest was being held “to demand that all of our elected officials call for a lasting ceasefire and an end to U.S. support for Israel’s war on Gaza.”
“We will continue to protest until the killing and mass displacement stop, all the hostages are home, and safety is guaranteed for civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law,” according to the group.
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