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April 15, 2024

Police arrest 68 at pro-Palestinian protest that blocked Philly roads

People in roughly 50 cities around the world participated in demonstrations to form economic blockades on April 15.

Protests Palestine
Palestine protest arrests Philly Provided image/Kaytee Ray Riek

Protesters affiliated with A15 Action gathered outside City Hall and along major traffic hubs in Philadelphia to block cars. The protest was meant to call attention to the conflict in Gaza.

City and state police arrested nearly 70 people Monday following a protest that blocked roads in Center City and other parts of Philadelphia.

Protesters calling for an end to Israeli strikes in Gaza gathered near major hubs including City Hall and 30th Street Station on Monday morning, forming human chains to stop traffic. According to the organizers, their actions "effectively" halted cars traveling in both directions on Interstate 76 and "slowed traffic ... to a near stop" on southbound and northbound lanes of I-95. 

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They further claim their blockades forced City Hall and Day & Zimmermann, an engineering and defense company headquartered at 1500 Spring Garden Street, into lockdown. Day & Zimmermann did not immediately respond to request to confirm, but Mayor Parker's chief spokesperson disputed this characterization, saying City Hall was never shut down. "Philadelphia police and the Sheriffs office monitored the situation as protests unfolded. Nothing to report beyond that," Joe Grace, director of communications, said via email.

Philadelphia Police said its officers arrested 41 people, issuing citations mainly for blocking the highway. Pennsylvania State Police arrested an additional 27 protesters, for a total of 68. The organizers said all individuals had been released by Monday night.

As seen in photos captured Monday, protesters held signs demanding "end the war on Gaza" and "no money for genocide," referring to U.S. aid to Israel. More than 33,000 Palestinians — including over 13,000 children — have died since Israel began airstrikes in response to an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, that killed roughly 1,200 people. According to the Associated Press, more than 60% of homes in Gaza are now likely damaged or destroyed and only 10 of the area's 36 hospitals are operational. The United Nations estimates 1.1 million Palestinians are facing "catastrophic" food insecurity.

The protests in Philly were just one piece of an international coordinated effort to "identify and blockade major choke points in the economy ... with the aim of causing the most economic impact." The protests, collectively referred to as A15 Action due to their April 15 date, included about 50 cities or regions around the world. 

This story has been updated with additional information from A15Philly and city officials.

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