Protesters calling for ceasefire in Gaza march to art museum after blocking I-76, Spring Garden Street Bridge

Police arrested more than two dozen protesters after a group calling for a ceasefire in Gaza amid the Israel-Hamas War briefly blocked I-76 in Philadelphia on Thursday.

About 200 protesters gathered on the Spring Garden Street Bridge over I-76 near the Philadelphia Museum of Art around 3:30 p.m.

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At about 3:45 p.m., SkyForce10 caught images of protesters marching along Spring Garden Street, over I-76, while draping signs over the overpass that read “Let Gaza live” and “ceasefire now.”

The group briefly blocked westbound lanes on I-76 under the bridge before moving on. Responding Philadelphia Police officers and Pennsylvania State Police troopers arrested 32 of the protesters, officials said.

All of the arrested protesters were charged with disorderly conduct and then released, according to officials with the State Police Department.

The remaining protesters moved off the highway and remained on the Spring Garden Street Bridge, blocking it in both directions. The bridge as well as the on-ramps from the bridge to I-76 were blocked as the protest continued.

“We’re going to be out here for as long as they’re out here. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer,” Interim Philadelphia Police Commissioner John Stanford said. “I mean this is a rush hour period. Redirecting traffic. And we have everything blocked off. But hopefully not too much longer so folks can continue to travel.” 

Shortly before 5:30 p.m., the demonstrators began marching towards the art museum.

The groups involved in the protest are Jewish Voice for Peace and Rabbis for Ceasefire as well as other faith leaders and allies.

The protesters described themselves as “Jewish community members who support freedom and dignity for all people.”

The protest occurred on the eighth and final night of Hanukkah.

“The Hanukkah story centers on the miracle of light not being extinguished — a lesson in resilience, even when hope is lost,” organizers of the protest wrote. “In the face of unfathomable suffering, loss, and destruction in Gaza, community members will join together in prayer to recommit to lasting freedom for Palestinians and safety, health, and wellbeing for all people. As the Israeli government doubles down on mass killing and destruction, protestors will invoke the spirit of Hanukkah to increase international pressure to stop the violence in its tracks.”

During the protest, rabbis who were part of the group lit a massive menorah over the bridge and led the demonstrators in prayer.

Thursday’s protest in Philadelphia calling for a ceasefire in Gaza was one of eight that occurred on bridges and highways in U.S. cities across the country, according to the demonstrators.

Both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protests have occurred around the world amid the Israel-Hamas War.

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