Palestine Protesters Arrested After Blocking Traffic

( – Hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators in New York City were arrested after shutting down the Manhattan Bridge over the weekend to raise awareness of casualties in the Gaza Strip as police struggle to maintain order while also protecting free speech rights.

On Saturday, May 11, protesters opposing the military actions of Israel in Gaza gathered to disrupt traffic and took over the Manhattan Bridge. The protest resulted in hundreds of arrests by the New York Police Department (NYPD).

NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Operations Kaz Daughtry posted about the incidents on social media, confirming that over 100 protesters deliberately disrupted traffic by blocking lanes on the Manhattan Bridge. The NYPD rounded up and arrested most of the demonstrators, some of which was captured on aerial footage shared by Kaz, who said it gives “a bird’s eye view” of officers arresting the protesters and “restoring order” in order to keep “NYC moving.” Some journalists covering the demonstration were also arrested in the roundups.

Daughtry said the protests were “more than an inconvenience” but “a public safety hazard.” He added that the NYPD always protects freedom of speech and the right to protest, but that they would “not stand for lawlessness.”

Although proponents of the demonstrations argue that the protests fall within the protections of the First Amendment, law enforcement cites other laws that specifically reference forms of trespassing as well as blocking roadways as the legal justification for putting a stop to such gatherings.

Last year in September 2023, shortly before the Israel-Hamas war broke out, New York Attorney General Letitia James agreed to a proposal from the Legal Aid Society and American Civil Liberties Union that would force NYPD to accommodate protests whenever possible. That approach was a result of the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in 2020.

The demonstrations and the response of law enforcement have revived a longtime debate in the US about freedom of speech and protesting. Large marches on public roadways and over bridges were critical tactics used during the Civil Rights Movement by notable figures like Martin Luther King Jr.

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