Motorists in downtown Los Angeles took matters into their own hands on Wednesday morning when they were faced with a group of pro-Palestinian protesters blocking a busy freeway in an anti-Israel demonstration. Frustrated commuters got out of their vehicles to confront the protesters, who were calling for a cease-fire in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza.
The protesters, representing the far-left group IfNotNow, had gathered on the southbound lanes of the 110 Freeway, one of the busiest and most congested roads in the city. They were chanting and singing in both English and Hebrew, and had even set up a large menorah in the middle of the freeway.
As the demonstration continued, tensions started to rise among the drivers who were stuck in traffic behind the rally. Some motorists grew impatient and began getting out of their vehicles, physically confronting the protesters. Aerial footage from local outlet KCAL News showed one angry commuter pinning a protester against a car, while others were seen yelling at the demonstrators.
FOX 11 aerial reporter Stu Mundel, who was covering the event from a helicopter, described the scene as "frantic" and "explosive." He reported that many of the stopped drivers were visibly upset and that the situation looked like it could escalate at any moment.
Pro-Palestine Protesters Stage Highway Shutdown in Los Angeles Thursday Morning. #LosAngeles #LA #Israel #Palestine #Hamas #Terrorism #War #Protest #FreePalestine #ceasefire #NATO #UnitedNations pic.twitter.com/lp6uMAW3gv
— Judge Napolitano (@Judgenap) December 14, 2023
The California Highway Patrol (CHP), who were present at the scene to keep an eye on the demonstration, took a passive stance, according to Mundel. He noted that the drivers were clearly not happy with the situation, and tensions continued to rise as the protesters refused to budge.
According to The L.A. Times, the traffic was at a standstill for about an hour before the police started detaining protesters that were not complying with a dispersal order. Some drivers got into scuffles with the demonstrators, which the police said they would investigate.
In total, 75 protesters were arrested for their involvement in the demonstration, and a tow truck was called to remove any vehicles that were left blocking the freeway. The road was eventually reopened but caused a major traffic backup for several hours.
A spokesperson for IfNotNow spoke out about the protest, calling it a last resort to raise awareness about the situation in Gaza. They claimed that they had exhausted all other options and that politicians, including President Biden, had not taken action to stop the violence in the region.
The spokesperson said, "We have tried everything else. We have called, we have marched, we have sung, we have prayed. We have written letters and visited offices. Yet politicians like President Biden continue to stonewall, and Israel continues to slaughter innocent Gazans by the thousands. Enough. We cannot wait another day."
The demonstration and resulting traffic jam caused frustration and delays for thousands of commuters, but it also highlighted the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. With tensions running high and protests erupting across the country, the issue of peace in the region continues to be a pressing concern for many people.