A total of 80 anti-war protesters were arrested after they blocked the westbound Bay Bridge for hours on Thursday morning and snarled traffic into San Francisco.
Officials confirmed the arrests of 67 women and 13 men on Thursday related to the demonstration. One protester has been booked into jail, while the other 79 were cited and released. A total of 29 vehicles were towed.
The bridge fully reopened just after noon, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Miguel Camarena.
"What they've done is put people's lives at risk," said a CHP officer at the scene, who added that while officers support First Amendment rights, blocking the bridge was "100% wrong."
Some drivers abandoned their cars and threw their keys into the bay, according to the officer, who repeated this information twice. CHP said it had been videotaping the entire demonstration to identify people and vehicles involved in the protest.
The San Francisco Sheriff's Department said about 80 protesters were cited and released after blocking the bridge.
Around 250 law enforcement officers, including CHP and sheriff's deputies, swarmed the bridge to end the shutdown. Multiple cars were towed off the bridge.
More than 1,000 law enforcement officers were sent to San Francisco in advance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the vast majority of them from the CHP, to provide security. Prior to Thursday's protest, CHP officers had taken two lanes of the bridge out of service during the summit.
CHP said approximately 100 people blocked all westbound lanes starting around 7:42 a.m. Protesters unfurled a banner across the bridge pavement, pointing skyward. It read, "Biden Harris Ceasefire Now," referencing the Israel-Hamas war, and was captured by an aerial traffic camera.
CHP officers on loudspeakers asked the demonstrators to leave the bridge at 8:45 a.m., declaring the protest an unlawful assembly. Officers confiscated some of the banners. Two white San Francisco Sheriff's Department buses were on the bridge to transport detained protesters.
A driver on the bridge witnessed cars turning around and driving the wrong way to get off the span. Protesters walked through traffic and handed flyers to drivers and passengers in cars.
Protest organizers said they were staging a “die-in” to commemorate the estimated 11,000 killed in Gaza as the war between Israel and Hamas rages on.
Rami Abdelkarim of the Palestinian Youth Movement told The Standard from the bridge that about 250 to 300 people joined in blocking Bay Bridge lanes.
"You can hear them kind of chanting behind me," Abdelkarim said. "What people are demanding today is that as long as Joe Biden continues to fund the genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza, there will be no business as usual."
Protesters noted that Indonesian President Joko Widodo had urged President Joe Biden to work for a cease-fire in Gaza. Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.
Biden attended APEC events at the Moscone Center on Thursday, and planned to host a dinner reception at the Legion of Honor later in the day. The president welcomed world leaders at a star-studded event at the Exploratorium museum on Wednesday night.