NATIONAL NEWS

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic into Chicago airport, causing headaches for travelers

Apr 15, 2024, 9:39 AM | Updated: 10:26 am

CHICAGO (AP) — Pro-Palestinian demonstrators blocked a freeway leading to three Chicago O’Hare International Airport terminals Monday morning, temporarily stopping vehicle traffic into one of the nation’s busiest airports and causing headaches for travelers.

Protesters linked arms and blocked lanes of Interstate 190 around 7 a.m., a demonstration they said was part of a global “economic blockade to free Palestine,” according to Rifqa Falaneh, one of the organizers. Traffic in the San Francisco Bay Area was also snarled for hours Monday morning as pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down both directions of the Golden Gate Bridge and stalled a 17-mile (27-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 880 in Oakland.

O’Hare warned travelers on the social platform X to take alternative forms of transportation with car travel “substantially delayed this morning due to protest activity.”

Videos posted to social media showed some travelers exiting vehicles and walking alongside the freeway, wheeling suitcases behind them.

While individual travelers may have been delayed, operations at the airport appeared near normal with delays of under 15 minutes, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Inbound traffic toward O’Hare resumed around 9 a.m.

Dozens of protesters were taken into Chicago police custody, according to Falaneh. Police did not immediately have further details.

Protesters say they chose the location, in part, because O’Hare is one of the largest airports. Among other things, they’ve called for an immediate ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

Anti- war protesters have demonstrated in Chicago near daily since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed around 1,200 people. Israeli warplanes and ground troops have conducted a scorched-earth campaign on the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli offensive has killed more than 33,700 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and combatants in its count but says women and children make up two-thirds of the dead.

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Associated Press writer Janie Har in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators block traffic into Chicago airport, causing headaches for travelers