SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Thursday morning’s commute may go down in some Bay Area commuters’ personal record books as the worst drive to work ever.
United States President Joe Biden was in San Francisco for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, and protesters took over the city’s most heavily traveled bridge to get his attention.
“They made for a very hectic day in the Bay Area,” one California Highway Patrol officer said. “I would not call this a peaceful protest, when you stop tens of thousands of people.”
Hundreds of protesters brought traffic to a complete halt “within seconds,” the CHP said.
They unfurled a banner calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. “There is a genocide happening in Gaza, and President Biden is hosting cocktail parties in San Francisco,” said Aisha Nizar with the Palestinian Youth Movement. “We refuse to stand by as our elected officials pay for and cheer on the genocide of Palestinians.”
The Bay Bridge shutdown began just before 8 a.m., and dragged on for more than four hours. A 5-mile backup caused a gridlock ripple effect. Commuters and families who were stuck on the bridge waited while sitting on top of their vehicles.
CHP officers directed motorists near the Toll Plaza to turn around and find a different route across the bay.
Protesters used a “sleeping dragon” tactic to keep I-80 closed, the CHP said. Some abandoned their vehicles in the middle of traffic lanes, threw their car keys into the bay, and chained themselves to the bridge.
Tow truck drivers hauled away dozens of abandoned vehicles.
The saga ended after 80 protesters were detained, cited, loaded onto sheriff busses, and released from custody, according to the San Francisco Sheriff’s Office. The citations were issued for unlawful assembly and failure to disperse.
The CHP said law enforcement agencies across the Bay Area were on high alert for protests popping up during APEC this week. Officers were stationed along all major bridges Thursday. But the Gaza ceasefire demonstrators pulled off their heavily coordinated plan before it could be stopped, the CHP said.