News

Protest on San Mateo Bridge caused crashes, CHP says

Stanford protesters arrested, cited with blocking freeway, creating public nuisance

A regional division chief of the California Highway Patrol responded to at least four collisions resulting from protesters' shutdown of the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a CHP spokesman said today.

CHP Golden Gate Division Chief Avery Browne assisted in four minor collisions he encountered while responding to the protests, which started in the bridge's westbound lanes at 4:50 p.m. Monday, CHP spokesman Officer Daniel Hill said.

The "Black Lives Matter" protesters from Stanford University were dropped off near the end of the westbound span and briefly blocked both sides of the bridge.

Protesters said they were honoring King's legacy and called for a demilitarization of local law enforcement and funds to support community-based alternatives to incarceration.

They said they planned to hold the bridge for 28 minutes, symbolic of the oft-cited statistic in recent protests that a black person is killed every 28 hours by a police officer, private security guard or vigilante.

They flew Palestinian and Mexican flags during the demonstration, drawing parallels between their struggles and those of minority communities in the U.S.

Hill said 68 protesters did not leave the bridge when ordered to and were arrested. It took 25 minutes to get even a single lane of the bridge opened as 30 CHP units responded to the protests.

The backups from the protests caused some rear-end collisions resulting in property damage and minor injuries. Some drivers fled from the crash scene and none of the crashes were severe, Hill said.

While responding to the protests, Browne assisted drivers in making reports and exchanging insurance information, Hill said.

The 68 protesters arrested were cited with blocking a freeway and creating a public nuisance and then released. They were ordered to appear in court in late February or early March, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

The district attorney's office is still waiting for individual reports on the protesters from the CHP to make charging decisions, which could take weeks, Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors will take the crashes on the bridge into account when making their decision, Wagstaffe said, since they are cases of specific harm to individuals in the crowd of hundreds or possibly thousands delayed by the protesters.

Comments

19 people like this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:24 am

What those students did was irresponsible, arrogant and totally lacking in good judgment. They should be prosecuted, and forced to pay fines. The University should also take disciplinary action. This amounts to no less than domestic terrorism. Blocking bridges is very serious. People use the bridges to get to places to pick up children, to work, to attend once in a life time events, to go to job interviews. How DARE those students impede people from getting to their various obligations? If people were stuck on the bridge, I consider that false imprisonment, since their actions didn't allow people to move forward or to turn around and exit the bridge. [Portion removed.]


12 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:33 am

[Portion removed.] If they want to stage their opinions, they have 8,000 acres on which to do it. If the Stanford administration doesn't nip this in the student 'bud', they may find themselves in a huge lawsuit for seemingly condoning it and causing great inconvenience and also auto damage, and the students should do jail time. Palo Alto went through civic hell with traffic closures, demonstrations, violence, and downtown business destruction due to Stanford demonstrations aided abetted by violent outside groups during the Vietnam war years. Not again. Stanford should identify and expel all of them. Allowing it once is an invitation to repeat performances. And what did it gain?


10 people like this
Posted by Robin
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:04 am

I wish the protestors would find another way to protest rather than blocking a bridge or expressway. They surely cannot have thought this through. Don't they realize that they could be responsible for a car crash? I gather there were no crashes when 101 was blocked a few weeks ago, but what if people DIE in a car crash caused by their blocking the road? It is just too dangerous - not just inconvenient, but potentially very dangerous.


12 people like this
Posted by Maren
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:19 am

Rather ironic to read the vituperative comments about this Peaceful Protest while the movie Selma is playing in the theaters, nominated for an Oscar. The story of the marches for Voting Rights and the crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge. These responses remind me of the hate with which those marchers were met.
Perhaps blocking the bridge at rush hour was not the best choice, but some minor inconvenience is a small matter compared to the ongoing harassment, fear, and prejudice that people of color continue to experience in our country.

Rear-end accidents result when drivers aren't paying attention.

I also lived in Palo Alto during the Vietnam War, and Bill, many local residents supported those protests, and there was very little violence locally.

As the students say, "Black Lives Matter". I support them.


2 people like this
Posted by Ralph
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

who do the protesters think they are - Gov. Christie?


7 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:32 am

Maren--it's very easy for you to claim that this was a minor inconvenience for those motorists on the bridge-- sounds Iike the attitude of " our cause is the only just one and to hell with e evryne else"
[Portion removed.]


2 people like this
Posted by Noel
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:43 am

[Post removed.]


5 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:52 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:04 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by Hermia
a resident of Triple El
on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm

The trouble with protests that do not inconvenience anyone is that they do not create change.
If you stand and shout No More! in your shower, you might feel better, but no one else will take notice.
To say protesters should be punished for inconveniencing others is fundamentally anti-free-speech.
And I am dismayed to find the me me me of Palo Alto extends to people valuing their half hour delay more highly than the right of the oppressed (and their allies) to speak out.


10 people like this
Posted by Jim Hols
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:31 pm

Comparing Selma to this incident is a bit ludicrous. The bay area freeways are carrying hundreds of thousands of people versus the back woods road at Selma where the MLK walk was staged. And I'm not sure that for everyone this was a minor inconvenience. But I know it was an unnecessary one.

Black live matter is not the issue here. No one gets to decide this is just an inconvenience. The issue is the manner of protest.

Of course, protesters have freedom of speech at any public park or most anywhere that doesn't restrict other peoples movement or risk their lives.

What if I blocked a student from going to take his/her final exam until the exam were over with the excuse that I was protesting. Would the student mind failing that class?

Can protesters block the path of folks fleeing a burning building?

Protest will gain more sympathizers when it doesn't annoy the very people that it's trying to convince of something.

Form an organization aimed at changing policing policies. Use the organization to hire lobbyists and get laws passed.


7 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:32 pm

For many people stuck on the bridge, the inconvenience may have been minor.

But, when a crash occurs, that is not minor. When someone misses a plane that is not minor - particularly if it is a flight out of SFO that only leaves a few times a week. When someone goes into labor or has a baby on a bridge, that is not minor. When someone misses a child's game or performance, that is not minor. When someone is late for work, that is not minor. When someone is late for an exam and fails the class, that is not minor.

When "minor" inconvenience means that not only those stuck on the bridge, but the knock on effect of others who have to remain at work until the delayed person arrives, the number of people who were potentially inconvenienced by this stupid act is huge.

I have nothing against peaceful civil disobedience or the freedom of speech, but there has to be a respectful attitude to do this. Otherwise, the message is lost in frustration.


2 people like this
Posted by Hermia
a resident of Triple El
on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm

But Jim Hols, directing people to seek change by paying for it (hiring lobbyists)
means that all change is then disproportionately open to those with money.
Disruption is the only way the disempowered can command attention.
Nonviolent disruption seems to me a small price to pay for their voices to be heard.


5 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Hermia seems to believe that if your cause is " just", then you have the right to disrupt people's lives, regardless of what that disruption may entail. Anyone who'd suffer from such a disruption is only paying a " small price. Nothing is stopping these people from protesting without disrupting the lives of others. [Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Memories
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Hernia - how do you know that they're effecting any change by this protest?


8 people like this
Posted by Resident 2
a resident of Mountain View
on Jan 22, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Continuing what Resident said: What if one of those accidents required emergency services? What if a person DIED because medical help could not arrive in time? What if a person had a heart attack from the stress?
The snowball effects of closing just 1 bridge or highway in the Bay Area are so momentous, that millions of people's lives were affected by this thoughtless protest. Not to mention the environmental impact of all the extra car exhaust.
Walking across a bridge or "along a public highway" in protest is one thing.
Closing it at rush hour is completely different.


4 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

Throw the BOOK at them! Maybe, but I doubt it they learn to not protest on public property and disrupt people's lives who were not harming them.


5 people like this
Posted by Old Grump
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 22, 2015 at 3:16 pm

Drivers are supposed to be able to handle events such as traffic stoppages without getting into accidents. And hitting another car almost always means you are at fault. Blaming it on the demonstration is irresponsible and craven. And as for the possibility of someone dying, the protesters are out there in part because a black person dies every 28 minutes due to action by police or security personnel. That's actual dying, not hypothetical dying. If the thought of dying makes you upset, think about that.

But wow these protesters have failed. And failed miserably.
First they allowed their protest to become an omnibus of grievance. Bringing Palestine into this is just confusing and distracting, whatever it's merits. The same with the other causes. Distraction, distracting, distraction.
Second they confused getting attention with getting attention for their cause. Closing a bridge? Give me a break. Look how well that has worked before...


Like this comment
Posted by Old Grump
a resident of Professorville
on Jan 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Sorry.
Auto spell correction did it - don't you hate that?
Should be: "...whatever its merits.."


5 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 22, 2015 at 4:12 pm

@ Hermia...do you honestly think those Stanford students are allies of the oppressed? They probably don't have a clue as to why they were on the bridge. They should have been booked and spent the night in jail for creating havoc and endangering those in traffic.


9 people like this
Posted by Who's to blame?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 5:07 pm

[Portion removed.]

As for the protestors - I hope they get a significant charge and sentence . Their actions were dangerous and it's not okay to restrict the freedom of others no matter their cause. The city and the university need to send a clear message to the students that there are heavy consequences for illegal protests.


Like this comment
Posted by Noel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:11 pm

[Post removed.]


7 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:13 pm

[Portion removed.]

Liberal to me has always meant standing up for the individual. Equal rights for
minorities and women. Pro-democracy, pro-individual choice and living life they
way one sees fit. Who on the Liberal "board of directors" made this decision
and when did we people who want to call ourselves Liberals get to have a
say on that?

How does this compute in support of the Palestinians, except in the most
superficial propgandistic ignorant ploys?

OK, so that is one thing, I consider the governments of Palestine and every
Islamic Republic in the area to have shown themselves to be anti-democratic,
a culture that is democracy-phobic, free-speech-phobic, allergic to almost
all the hard won freedoms we have in the West, but if someone wants to
protest in support of that - fine - just do it on its own, don't call yourself
Liberal or Progressive.

[Portion removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2015 at 11:28 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

>Posted by Old Grump Drivers are supposed to be able to handle events such as traffic stoppages without getting into accidents.


so are you saying if you don't lock your door, it's ok for someone to come in and steal everything? Because people should be safe and take care of their own possessions. Blaming it on burglars is irresponsible and craven.



1 person likes this
Posted by Israel is right
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 23, 2015 at 7:33 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Israel is right
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

Looks like we have some way-after-the-fact-editing on this thread.
But if you are going to delete mine and agenda's comments then please remove all of Noel's last comment, since his comment is in response to a deleted comment.
Not sure why you are deleting all references to the palestinian flags at this demonstration since they are part of the story and why you specifically left noel's comment.
Please fix this issue so that people will not think that you are biased


3 people like this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

Among the excepts that were deleted from my earlier post, which may
have been too strong, so I re-paraphrase ...

What are you supporting when you protesting besides someone defending Hamas?

> Somehow Palestinian arguments always try to convince us that it is
> a Liberal value to support non-secular intolerant Islamic states that
> are anything but Liberal and in fact have no respect for Liberal values.

> Please Palestinian supporters quit showing up at other peoples'
> issues and pretending you care, because if the Palestinian Hamas
> government had its way real Liberals would be horrified.

I think I can include real Conservatives in that remark.

It's true, it's what's happening, the infiltration of political correctness
by whatever can grab attention or controversy and generate echoes in
the media, whoever they are by, has turned the idea of what was
political correctness and Liberalism into a cynical sham that now
draws fire.

Hamas plays games with documents on the web, but in their charter
there have been comments retrieved on various edits of the document
that call for the destruction of Israel and all Jews, showing up as late
as 2011 ... which really demonstrates a cold contempt for Western
"LIBERAL" civilization.

From the Hamas Charter:
>> Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

It is right that people know this, it's not some politically correct joke,
who are you demonstrating with and what are you supporting when you
are beside someone defending Hamas?

This is part of the story and I don't see how to downplay it, so edit if
you must editor.


1 person likes this
Posted by streetwise Preacher
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2015 at 10:53 pm

These students all want to be involved with "something big" and make
themselves feel important. So first question: why are they doing this?
How come none of them are speaking up on this Local forum?
Second: waving foreign flags does nothing for their "cause" this only
incites others to " be disturbed at their actions".
and third: What do they think their protest has changed?
The answer is: NOTHING!
Back to the tried and true Biblical teaching:
If you wish to make some change in the world, you must first
CHANGE YOURSELF!
Yet higher education fails to teach this.


Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 24, 2015 at 3:26 am

68 kids will be reporting this arrest, and having to explain it, on their job applications for the rest of their lives. Or maybe they will never try for a sensitive job.


Posted by Right winger
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

on Jan 24, 2015 at 11:49 am


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Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 24, 2015 at 9:09 pm

"Right winger", Sorry you got deleted. I've been there many times and probably will again.

You comment was germane to the issue, perhaps not worded well ... but, is what you brought up a left wing issue?

My whole point is that it is not. There is nothing Left wing about supporting tyrannies. I don't know why it would be, and I see an awful lot of right-wingers ( present company excepted) more than happy to make that connection to discredit the left wing, which was part of my point earlier.

Who knows who and what these people on the bridge are, but the fact that "they" chose a bridge to demonstrate on and get in everyone's way and bug them casts doubt on their intelligence even if they are from Stanford.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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