Dozens of protestors in solidarity with Palestine briefly blocked traffic at JFK Airport on Wednesday, amid one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
Video footage of the incident shared on social media shows travelers leaving cars with their luggage in tow to walk around the blockage on the Van Wyck Expressway, leading to Terminal 4.
The Port Authority Police Department was first notified of the disruption at approximately 11:30 a.m. The protesters formed a human chain that blocked three lanes of traffic heading towards the airport. Traffic heading out of the airport was not disrupted.
Several different banners and posters that read “Let Gaza Live” and “Divest From Genocide” in the colors of the Palestinian flag were held up. But political chants calling for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea” were drowned out by dozens of stuck cars honking.
JFK Airport Access BLOCKED by Pro-Palestine Protesters, ends with Arrests
— FreedomNews.Tv FNTV (@FreedomNTV) December 28, 2023
Port Authority police arrived on the scene and quickly arrested 26 protesters for disorderly conduct and impeding vehicular traffic. The disruptors were handcuffed and placed on the side of the road before officers led them onto an MTA bus.
According to a Port Authority spokesperson, the roadway was cleared at 11:50 a.m.
“During the disruption, the Port Authority dispatched two airport buses, offering rides to travelers involved in the backup to allow them to reach the airport safely,” said Steve Burns, a representative for the Port Authority.
Before the arrests began, PAPD officers guided the travelers who left their vehicles to walk on the grass and sidewalk to get to the terminal safely. Some of them walked directly through the protesters and underneath their banners to evade the blockade.
Happening now: Activists have blockaded entry to JFK International Airport on one of the busiest travel days of the year to bring attention to the humanitarian right to return home, which has been withheld from Palestinians for decades. pic.twitter.com/p0Hhqv7V4E
— Talia Jane ❤️🔥 (@taliaotg) December 27, 2023
On the other side of the country, a similar protest took place at Los Angeles International Airport just hours apart. Unlike the protest at JFK, violence broke out and two police officers were allegedly attacked by protestors, but not seriously injured, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
The LAPD said that approximately 36 protesters were arrested and booked for rioting. At least one was arrested for battery on a police officer.
In NYC, there have been over 400 demonstrations that have broken out since the attack on Israel carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to the Adams administration. Most of them have been in protest of Israel’s deadly campaign on Gaza that followed the terror attack.
City officials worry that a Pro-Palestine protest will also disrupt the New Year’s Eve festivities in Times Square this year.