Protest calling for cease-fire in Gaza shuts down SB 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles

The CHP says 75 people were arrested.

Sid Garcia Image
Thursday, December 14, 2023
Protesters calling for cease-fire in Gaza shut down SB 110 Fwy in LA
A protest on the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles prompted a shutdown of southbound lanes as demonstrators called for a cease-fire in Gaza.

DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip drove onto the 110 Freeway in downtown L.A. on Wednesday morning, exited their vehicles and forced the closure of all southbound lanes, all of which were later reopened.

The organized demonstration on the freeway began shortly after 9 a.m. and brought traffic to a standstill on one side of the freeway. Northbound traffic was not affected.

California Highway Patrol officers were at the scene as several violent skirmishes broke out among frustrated drivers and the protesters, who locked arms with each other in a row that spanned across the southbound lanes. An occasional motorcycle would break through the line and drive onward on the empty freeway ahead.

A 7-foot tall makeshift menorah was erected as one of the demonstrators used a bullhorn to address the others.

Protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip walked onto the 110 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles and forced the closure of all southbound lanes.

The activists initially ignored the CHP's orders to disperse. Shortly before 10 a.m., officers began approaching the protesters individually, tying their hands with zip-ties and taking them into custody without incident. After being detained, the activists were each placed in one of the two-dozen Highway Patrol cruisers and cargo vans that were parked on the freeway. They were then transported to a nearby LAPD jail facility.

The CHP later confirmed that 75 people involved in the protest were arrested.

Southbound traffic was backed up past Dodger Stadium and the 5 Freeway interchange as the sit-in continued. About 11:30 a.m., the Highway Patrol reopened all freeway lanes to drivers.

"As American Jews, we refuse to be silent," the activist group IfNotNow LA said in a statement released Wednesday morning. "We demand an end to the financial support of Israel's occupation and documented war crimes, including the indiscriminate mass murder of over 18,000 Palestinians and the forced displacement of 1.9 million civilians."

Asher Kaplan of IfNotNow LA said the group has been "raising a lot of awareness about this issue. But, unfortunately, the United States government has not made any substantial moves to change what's happening."

IfNotNow LA is made up of American Jews and allies demanding an end to U.S. military aid and support of Israel and asking for a cease-fire. The group "often engages in divisive rhetoric, some of which may be offensive to members of the mainstream Jewish community," according to the Anti-Defamation League.

On the freeway, many drivers who were stuck in the gridlock expressed frustration.

"It's messing up traffic horribly, sir," Cameron Juarez said. "It's crazy, isn't it? They shouldn't be doing it here, I know that."

Others expressed sympathy for the cause.

"I'm with them. I'm with them. I'm with Gaza," Beatrice Favela said. Referring to traffic delays, she said: "It's always a hassle. It's L.A. -- traffic is always going to happen. But this is important right now. The world needs to know and see that this is important."