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Protesters supporting cease-fire block San Francisco freeway lanes

A flag stands above a railing on an elevated freeway under mostly cloudy skies
A Palestinian flag stands atop the Central Freeway after protesters who had gathered to call for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas blocked multiple lanes Monday. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

Several hundred protesters with signs blocked multiple lanes of the Central Freeway in San Francisco Monday afternoon, backing up traffic attempting to reach the Bay Bridge.

According to the California Highway Patrol, the protesters appeared around 1:40 p.m. Monday, blocking traffic with vehicles and spreading banners across lanes in both directions.

CHP Officer Mark Andrews told The Standard that a couple of hundred protesters on the freeway walked past several pre-positioned officers at the freeway's Octavia Boulevard entrance. 

With some protesters blocking off at least one connector ramp, others surged onto the freeway and held multiple lanes in both directions.

"We had officers respond to that area just prior to them getting up there, but they walked right by them," Andrews said.

At least one group of protesters were seen leaving freeway lanes around 2:25 p.m., with others still in a stretch of roadway near Octavia and South Van Ness Avenue. The mass of the protest later moved to the intersection of Van Ness and Market Street, halting traffic in all directions.

There were no reported injuries or public safety issues, Andrews added. 

A crowd of protesters hold signs and fill a city intersection under mostly cloudy skies.
Protesters calling for an Israel-Hamas war cease-fire gathered Monday afternoon at Market Street and Van Ness Avenue after several hundred people blocked Central Freeway lanes to traffic. | Source: Astrid Kane/The Standard

Protesters had originally gathered in San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza at noon to call for what an Arab Resource and Organizing Center press release described as "an immediate cease-fire and an end to U.S. support of the ongoing Israeli assault on Gaza."

It was the second blockage of Bay Area freeway lanes within a week, following a group of protesters who briefly blocked Golden Gate Bridge lanes last Wednesday. In November, dozens of protesters blocked the Bay Bridge for four hours, calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Although all freeway lanes were reopened to traffic shortly before 3:15 p.m., according to a Caltrans social media post, traffic around Market and Van Ness remained blocked by dozens of protesters.

President Biden is expected to visit San Francisco this week, as well as Los Angeles and the South Bay's Los Altos Hills, to take part in fundraisers for his upcoming reelection campaign.

George Kelly can be reached at