Stanford University Students Stage Traffic Stopping Protest Atop San Mateo-Hayward Bridge

Over 100 Stanford University students and members of the community staged a “Reclaim MLK” rally and effectively shut down traffic for more than an hour on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge early Monday evening to support the national demands made by Ferguson Action.

The protest was organized by a group of Stanford students who have formed Silicon Shutdown, an organization working hard to “organize in West Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and the Silicon Valley against state-sanctioned violence (police brutality) and other forms of systematic oppression,” as is stated on their website.

Protest organizers said in their public statement, “This [action] is in defense of ALL black lives. We stand with Black men and women. We at when Black Queer and Trans lives are threatened. We defend the rights of our Black family when we are poor, disabled and incarcerated.” This is also part of  the Ferguson Action national pledge.

“I realized that it was time to put my body on the line and use my privilege as a Stanford student to elevate the issues of Black Lives Matter,” said Kristian Davis Bailey when asked what the motivation behind participation was.

Protesters took to the bridge at 4:50 p.m. by car initially as they were dropped off on the westbound lane since there isn’t access to that portion of the bridge on foot. Participants quickly spread out and covered both east and westbound lanes within minutes of arriving, shutting down traffic until the California Highway Patrol arrived.

The goal was to shut the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge down for a full 28 minutes to drive their message and pressence home. They wanted those on the bridge to witness the symbolic significance of those 28 minutes as they stood as living reminders of all the Black men, women and children who are reportedly killed every 28 hours by police officers.

“We chose to inconvenience the weekend commute because the status quo is deadly to the black and brown peoples of this country and can no longer be tolerated,” read a statement posted by participating Stanford student, Maria Diaz.

The protest was peaceful as participants joined together to stand for those that are no longer able to. Some students raised banners and signs decrying the injustices inflicted upon black communities. While others held flags to show that the voices of the Palestinian and Mexican communities who have been subjected to violence at state and federal levels were not going unheard.

Bailey also made a public statement, which said “Combating the triplets of racism, militarism and materialism was one of the biggest legacies King left us. We proudly carry the Palestinian flag as we call on Stanford to divest from human rights violations in the occupation and related state violence in the U.S. The recent trip of Black Lives Matter and Ferguson representatives to Palestine signifies these movements are coming together on a global scale.”

Officers on the scene gave the protesters a brief period to leave, but only 32 of the 100 participants present opted to do so. The remaining 68 protesters were then arrested and held on the side of the bridge as the CHP reopened the blocked lanes and began towing any cars left unattended by protesters. Even being handcuffed couldn’t stop participants from raising their voices against injustice as they peacefully chanted while awaiting further action from the CHP.

Officers eventually released 57 of the detained protesters, but of the remaining 11 protesters were taken to the San Mateo County Jail to be charged with disobeying a lawful order of a peace officer and obstructing the free movement of others,” according to CHP Officer Daniel Hill.

Stanford University spokeswoman Lisa Lapin, had this to say to The Daily, “We respect our students’ right to express themselves in peaceful protest. But we expect them to understand the consequences of protests that violate the law or the rights of others.”

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