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SF bridge protest traps hundreds, California lawmakers seek stronger punishment

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(The Center Square) – After San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge was blocked off by pro-Palestinian protestors for four hours earlier this week, California lawmakers have redoubled efforts to increase penalties for blocking roadways in a way that prevents operations of life-saving emergency vehicles.

Critical organ transplants were snarled by another Golden Gate Bridge protest-caused shutdown earlier this year, demonstrating real-life consequences for bridge and road takeovers that have erupted across the state.

AB 2742, introduced by Assemblymember Kate Sanchez, R-Trabuco Canyon, would double penalties for preventing emergency vehicles from passing, creating an up to $500 fine for the first offense, and up to $1000 for each subsequent offense.

The bill faces its hearing in the Assembly Transportation Committee on April 22.

San Francisco’s chief prosecutor, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, announced that 26 individuals were arrested on misdemeanor and felony charges in connection with this week’s protest.

“While we must protect avenues for free speech, the exercise of free speech cannot compromise public safety,” Jenkins said in a statement. “Twenty-six individuals were arrested by the California Highway Patrol with support from other local law enforcement agencies in connection to the demonstration on the Golden Gate Bridge on April 15, 2024, which unlawfully shut down traffic and trapped hundreds of people.”

“We do not bow to political pressure and file charges when not warranted nor do we forsake our obligations to protect public safety and enforce the law selectively due to political pressure,” continued Jenkins.