Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators shut down lanes on I-40 bridge

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Demonstrators for a pro-Palestinian protest marched across the Memphis-Arkansas I-40 bridge Saturday, causing lanes to completely close.

Protestors gathered at City Hall Saturday afternoon before eventually making their way to the I-40 bridge.

Just after 3 p.m., demonstrators could be seen on the Tennessee Department of Transportation cameras marching across the bridge while traffic was backed up behind them.

Protestors covered all lanes of traffic going in both directions, linking arms and demanding a response from local leaders like Rep. Steve Cohen.

“Until Steve Cohen cosponsors for a ceasefire,” protestor Jana Abuirshaid said. “Until this genocide stops. Until our tax money is no longer funding what is going on in Palestine.”

At around 4:30 p.m., the side of the bridge heading toward Arkansas reopened as protestors moved to one side of the bridge to let cars through. As of 5 p.m., all lanes of traffic were open, and the bridge was cleared.

Arkansas State Police said a woman had a medical emergency and wasn’t able to move through the traffic backup. ASP troopers were able to get an ambulance to her and airlifted her to Memphis.

The Memphis Fire Department said the protest did not cause any delays to its services.

At least a dozen Memphis Police cars could be seen on the bridge as officers attempted to clear the roadway, but according to police, no arrests were made. Eventually, police were able to encourage the crowd to make their way towards Front Street.

“If they did not want all this action to happen they should have listened to us the first time,” Abuirshaid said. “You’re here to represent us.  You’re here to represent your people of America and we’re saying to stop funding this genocide.  Stop using our tax money that we have to pay for this genocide.”

Memphis Mayor Paul Young sent a statement Saturday evening, saying, “I would like to thank MPD, TN Highway Patrol, Shelby County Sheriff’s office, and our Arkansas law enforcement partners for responding together to ensure a peaceful and quick resolution and to restore traffic flow.”

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