San Francisco commuters found themselves stranded on the city’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge for over an hour after protesters created a blockade to halt traffic while they agitated for legislation protecting illegal migrants.
The demonstrators reportedly parked their vehicles on the bridge, blocking northbound lanes, shortly before 7am on Thursday. California Highway Patrol (CHP) officers then shut down southbound lanes, heading into the city from Marin County, and traffic wasn’t moving again in both directions until 8.30am.
Protesters chanted slogans and marched with signs on the roadway. Some gave speeches from the bed of a truck. Organizers from the Bay Area Coalition for Economic Justice and Citizenship for All said about 40 migrant families and allies had participated in blocking the bridge.
One video from the scene, posted on Twitter, shows the protesters chanting, “What do we want? Papers for all. When do we want it? Now.” Some of the chants were in Spanish, including the rallying “Si se puede,” meaning “Yes, we can.”
Protesters have blocked traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge to demand Congress grant a pathway to citizenship for the country’s 11 million undocumented people @sfchroniclepic.twitter.com/gDzGQaKBcU
Immigration activists were angry that their amnesty agenda hadn’t been included in a budget-reconciliation bill pending in Congress. The US Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, said earlier this month that Democrat provisions providing a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens couldn’t be rolled into the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.
Including those provisions in the reconciliation bill would prevent Republicans from blocking it through a filibuster, but MacDonough, the nonpartisan arbiter of Senate rules, reportedly said the tactic wasn’t permissible, as its budget effect was “merely incidental” to its policy impact.
The Golden Gate protesters carried a large banner demanding that Democrats “override the parliamentarian.” Organizers said in a statement that Vice President Kamala Harris and senior Democrat lawmakers should force the immigration measure into the reconciliation bill.
“Immigrant communities cannot wait another 20 years of failed promises…,” the statement said. “The time to deliver economic justice, climate justice, and citizenship for all is now.”
The Bay Area branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) helped promote the protest. The group said CHP officers prolonged the traffic disruptions by preventing the demonstrators from leaving after 20 minutes, as they had planned. Police said protesters hadn’t left the bridge when they were ordered, so they were detained.
As planned, immigration activists shut down northbound traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge for a brief 20 minutes this morning — and then tried to leave. CHP showed up and prevented protestors from dispersing for another 40 minutes and even blocked all lanes of southbound traffic. pic.twitter.com/EiYSvRrPn1
The CHP finally cleared the northbound lanes by bringing in tow trucks to remove protesters’ vehicles. Five activists were reportedly arrested.
“This is the only way we’re going to be heard,” said Brenda Zendejas, one of the arrested demonstrators. “We have done everything, we’ve followed the rules, and no one’s listening to us.”
CHP officer Andrew Barclay said people had the right to protest, but not to block roadways. “This is a very dangerous place for people to be, you know, especially … out of their vehicles,” he said.
I totally support the cause but hate when people do this. I used to live in Marin + work in San Francisco; blocking the Golden Gate is dangerous, maddening and persuades no one. All it does is scare drivers and piss them off. I’ve been on the bridge when it’s blocked and in…1/
Online observers, including some who favor amnesty for illegal aliens, lamented that the dangerous tactic of blocking traffic – possibly including those in need of emergency medical treatment – would only diminish public support for the cause.
“Blocking the Golden Gate is dangerous, maddening, and persuades no one,” fundraiser Maryellen Waters said on Twitter. “All it does is scare drivers and piss them off.”
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