Pro-Palestinian protesters from several advocacy groups shut down the Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge, Williamsburg Bridge and Holland Tunnel for over an hour on Monday morning, accord to police.
Traffic was at a standstill at each of the four entry points to the city beginning at around 9:30 a.m., according to a NYPD spokesperson. At around 10:30 a.m. traffic began slowly moving through the lower Manhattan entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge. It was unclear whether traffic remained halted at the other locations late Monday morning.
The protests were led by several groups, including the Palestinian Youth Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Palestine Right to Return Coalition. Demonstrators called for an end to the Israeli bombardment on Gaza which has killed nearly 23,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Israel’s attacks follow the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, which killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
About 50 protesters who chained their arms together at the Brooklyn Bridge used chicken wire, foam and a plastic tube to cover the chains. Police began sawing off the tubes at around 10:30 a.m., according to a Gothamist reporter who was at the scene.
At least two protesters used cement to attach themselves to a tire, according to a Gothamist reporter at the scene. NYPD officers arrested at least 20 protesters at the Brooklyn Bridge, who were being rounded up into police vans.
“The point is disruption,” said one protester at the Brooklyn Bridge, Mon Mohapatra. “We were trying to cause gridlock and traffic back-ups throughout downtown Manhattan at the same time. We were trying to scale up and we were trying to show that we’re a united front for Palestine … until there’s a permanent ceasefire.”
Hundreds of cars were backed up in lower Manhattan. Some drivers exited their cars and began yelling at police and protesters.
“This is unbelievable,” said Angel Morel, 50, who works for the city’s sanitation department. Morel said his job was in jeopardy after waiting nearly an hour. “The citizens always pay at the end.”
This story is developing and will be updated