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Bay Bridge protesters get just 5 hours community service and tiny fine for causing major delays

A group of protesters, some holding bullhorns scream in the center of the Bay Bridge during a large protest that has disrupting traffic.
Demonstrators who shut down the Bay Bridge during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference have agreed to do community service in exchange for the dismissal of the criminal case against them. | Source: Noah Berger/AP Photo

Protesters who were arrested after shutting down traffic on the Bay Bridge in November have agreed to complete five hours of community service in exchange for the dismissal of the criminal case against them, the group said Thursday.

In total, 80 protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza were charged in December with false imprisonment, refusing to comply with a peace officer, unlawful public assembly, refusing to disperse and obstruction of street, sidewalk or other place open to public. Of those, 78 accepted the pretrial diversion deal offered by a San Francisco County Superior Court judge.

“This is a victory not only for those exercising their right to protest a genocide being fueled by their tax dollars, but for the growing global movement demanding freedom for the Palestinian people,” Aisha Nizar, one of the protesters said in a statement. “We emerge from this case even stronger and more united in our commitment to one another and to the people of Palestine.”

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said her office was dismissing charges against one other defendant, while another declined the offer and is expected in court for an arraignment on April 15.

The protesters who agreed to complete community service must do so within two months, according to the DA's Office. If any of them are arrested during the diversionary period, the court could resume the criminal proceedings.

The group said it agreed to pay a total of $4,448 restitution, though Jenkins said the total restitution amount will be set at a future date. As long as they complete the community service and stay out of trouble, the charges will be dismissed, the DA's office said.

"We remain committed to ensuring that San Francisco is a safe city for everyone who lives and enters our city," Jenkins said in a statement. "We will continue to ensure that appropriate avenues for the expression of free speech and social advocacy exist and are protected in San Francisco. I truly believe that we can achieve engaging in free expression while maintaining the safety of our communities."

The Nov. 16 protest during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit marked the longest shutdown of the Bay Bridge since 2016. Around 250 law enforcement officers—including California Highway Patrol and sheriff's deputies from Alameda and San Francisco counties—swarmed the bridge to end the four-hour traffic shutdown. Sixty-seven women and 13 men were arrested and 29 vehicles were towed.

“The Bay Bridge protesters are part of a long legacy of people of conscience who have used civil disobedience to bend the arc of history toward justice,” said Jeff Wozniak, one of the attorneys representing the protesters. “We will continue to vigorously defend all people who take bold action to demand justice and bring an end to this genocide.”

Stephanie K. Baer can be reached at