Anti-war protesters calling for Gaza cease-fire camp block roads in Loop after 24 -hour vigil

Jessica D'Onofrio Image
Friday, March 8, 2024
Gaza ceasefire protesters block streets in Loop
Protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza blocked traffic in the Loop, with dozens getting arrested.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- At the end of a 24-hour vigil in Federal Plaza, some Gaza war protesters were arrested for blocking traffic.

Anti-war protestors shut down the streets in front of the Federal Building for about two hours during the morning rush.

Police made dozens of arrests.

One after one, police handcuffed demonstrators blocking traffic at the intersection of Dearborn and Jackson in the Loop.

Sean Reynolds was one of the more than 30 demonstrators arrested peacefully.

"I don't want to be complicit in a genocide," Reynolds said. "That's all I can say."

Several groups, including Muslim and Jewish organizations, calling for the Biden administration to demand a ceasefire in Gaza camped out in Federal Plaza for 24 hours.

They read the names of more than 30,000 Palestinians killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Then as the vigil concluded, just after 7 a.m., they moved to block the streets.

"30,000 deaths is not something that you can ignore and we've caused it," Marty Levine with Jewish Voice for Peace Chicago said.

The group's message meant to coincide with the president's State of the Union address Thursday night, where the president pledged more humanitarian aid to the Gaza coast.

He also called on Israel to do more to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians even as its forces try to eliminate the Hamas militant group.

"To the leadership of Israel, I say this: Humanitarian assistance cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip. Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority," Biden said.

But for demonstrators here, it's too little too late.

"It's great that aid is coming in but we also have to consider the fact that while aid is coming in, bombs are being dropped on the people of Gaza," Nick Sous with the U.S. Palestinian Community Network said.

Meanwhile Chicago area leaders from the Jewish United Fund maintain this is not the time for a ceasefire when Hamas is still holding Israeli hostages.

"Hamas with the ability and desire to commit additional terror attacks to Israel is not the time to unilaterally disarm Israel's military," JUF executive Jay Tcath said.

Meanwhile, demonstrator say they plan to keep protesting and are organizing actions when the Democratic National Convention comes to Chicago in August.