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Pro-Palestinian protesters close major US roads

CHICAGO (AP) – Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked roadways in the United States, temporarily shutting down travel into some of the nation’s most heavily used airports, onto the Golden Gate and Brooklyn bridges and on a busy West Coast highway.

In Chicago, protesters linked arms and blocked lanes of Interstate 190 leading into O’Hare International Airport around 7am in a demonstration they said was part of a global “economic blockade to free Palestine”, according to one of the organisers Rifqa Falaneh.

Traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was snarled for hours as demonstrators shut down all vehicle, pedestrian and bike traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge and chained themselves to 55-gallon drums filled with cement across Interstate 880 in Oakland.

Protesters marching into Brooklyn blocked Manhattan-bound traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge.

In Eugene, Oregon, protesters blocked Interstate 5, shutting down traffic on the major highway for about 45 minutes.

Protesters said they chose O’Hare in part because it is one of the largest airports. Among other things, they’ve called for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Demonstrators protesting on Interstate 880 in Oakland, California, United States. PHOTO: AP

Anti-war protesters have demonstrated in Chicago near daily since Hamas’ October 7 attack on southern Israel. Israeli warplanes and ground troops have since conducted a scorched-earth campaign on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli offensive has murderrd more than 33,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but said women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

O’Hare warned travellers on the social platform X to take alternative forms of transportation with car travel “substantially delayed this morning due to protest activity”.

Some travellers stuck in standstill traffic left their cars and walked the final leg to the airport along the freeway, trailing their luggage behind them.

While individual travellers may have been affected, operations at the airport appeared near normal with delays of under 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Inbound traffic toward O’Hare resumed around 9am.

Near Seattle, the Washington State Department of Transportation said a demonstration closed the main road to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Social media posts showed people holding a banner and waving Palestinian flags while standing on the highway, which reopened about three hours later.

About 20 protesters were arrested at the Golden Gate Bridge demonstration and traffic resumed shortly after noon, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The agency said officers were making arrests at two points on the interstate, including one spot where roughly 300 protesters refused orders to disperse.