More than two dozen pro-Palestinian protesters were arrested Wednesday morning after they blocked traffic heading to Kennedy International Airport in New York City during one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, according to the Port Authority Police Department.
In total, 26 people were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and impeding vehicular traffic, according to a statement from the police.
The police first responded to reports of protest activity outside the airport, along the Van Wyck Expressway, around 11:30 a.m., according to the authorities, and the roadway was cleared 20 minutes later. The Port Authority sent two airport buses to offer rides to travelers affected by the backup, according to the police.
During the demonstration, the protesters held hands, forming a line that stretched across the highway, and they carried banners with messages including “Divest From Genocide,” “Let Gaza Live” and “Right to Return.” Behind them, bumper-to-bumper traffic stretched as far as the eye could see across all three lanes.
About an hour later and 2,500 miles west, pro-Palestinian protesters blocked traffic on West Century Boulevard near the entrance to Los Angeles International Airport. Thirty-five people were arrested, according to the police, most of them on charges of rioting.
By midmorning, crews were removing debris that demonstrators had placed across the roadway.
Since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October, there have been near-daily protests across the United States, including on college campuses, at the base of the Statue of Liberty and at Grand Central Terminal and other places in New York City. In separate protests earlier this month, demonstrators blocked cars near the airport in Los Angeles and on the 110 freeway, snarling downtown traffic.
Only a few days before Wednesday’s protests in New York City and Los Angeles, pro-Palestinian activists organized a similar demonstration in Chicago. A multicar caravan led by the U.S. Palestinian Community Network blocked roads leading into O’Hare International Airport, according to news reports.
Kevin Yamamura contributed reporting.