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Protesters are monitored by California Highway Patrol officers on Interstate 880 southbound in West Oakland, California, on Monday, 15 April 2024. The protesters opposed to the war in Gaza shut down 880 and the Golden Gate Bridge early Monday. (Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images)

Protesters Block Traffic at Key Sites in Several U.S. Cities

A group of protesters aligned their cars heading south on U.S. Highway 101 heading toward San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Halfway across the span, they slowed and came to a stop, setting off an hours-long demonstration by causing a miles-long traffic jam.

The protest was one of many relatively minor actions around the United States on Monday, 15 April, loosely organized by a group called A15 Action, a pro-Palestinian outfit. The purpose, according to the A15 Action website is to block “the arteries of capitalism and jamming the wheels of production” to cause distress to countries that provide support to Israel.

Earlier, protesters had blocked traffic at two locations on Interstate 880 in Oakland, California, and later blocked the entrance to the Port of Oakland. The local Fox News affiliate said protestors blocking the interstate in Oakland chained themselves to concrete-filled drums and that seven protestors were arrested. The CBS affiliate in San Francisco reported that the California Highway Police had arrested 20 people between the protests.

Other significant protests blocked main routes to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, where 54 people were arrested, and Seattle’s Sea-Tac Airport, where police arrested 46.

Protestors also briefly disrupted traffic on New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, blocked streets and marched in Philadelphia, briefly blocked access to PortMiami, and blocked access to a Tesla factory in Fremont, California. Protests even reached into smaller cities and communities: police arrested 10 people who blocked the entrance to a Pratt & Whitney plant in Middletown, Connecticut, and seven were arrested trying to block access to a Boeing plant in St. Charles County, Missouri, outside of St. Louis.

The A15 website lists several cities around the world, including many that saw protests in the United States. The protests affected several sites in Australia; however, there are no news reports of incidents in some of the cities on the site, including as Seoul, South Korea, and Vienna, Austria.

Any leadership or organization behind A15 remains shrouded. Prior to the protests, the site said, “Every city will take responsibility for choosing and planning their own local actions. Fellow organizers will not discourage or denounce each others plans because solidarity means affinity, not ownership.”

The site specifically said protestors should not cooperate with authorities; their goal was disruption. The site lists nonpersonal email addresses as contacts for “questions and press requests,” although major outlets including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Associated Press did not have any comments from A15 leaders, nor did they say if they had tried to contact them through the site.

The protests occurred just days after the situation in the Middle East grew more tense. On 13 April, Iran launched hundreds of armed drones, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles in a direct attack on Israel in retaliation for an Israeli strike to Iran’s embassy in Syria that killed 12, including a top commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Israel’s defense shield, aided by allies including the United States, eliminated almost every one of Iran’s attacks.

Over the weekend calls for restraint to prevent all-out war between Israel and Iran—feared since Hamas attacked Isarael, killing more than 1,000 Israelis and kidnapping hundreds more, followed by Israel’s occupation of Gaza that has led to tens of thousands of deaths—came from such widespread sources as UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and U.S. President Joe Biden to Russian Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov and Kenyan President William Ruto. However, yesterday Israel’s Lt. General Herzi Halevi said Iran’s action “will be met with a response.”

Security Management has several resources on how security professionals can prepare for protests, including “Protest Preparedness: Analyzing Crowd Dynamics, Threat Actors, and Intelligence” and “Corporate Resilience: How to Anticipate Mass Protest and Disruption.”