Pro-Palestine protesters take over Brooklyn Bridge on New Year’s Day

The Brooklyn Bridge was closed for several hours at the end of October as protestors streamed across it. Protesters again shutdown the roadway on New Year’s Day.
File photo by Erica Price

Thousands of protesters took to the Brooklyn Bridge on New Year’s Day to continue their calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The rally, which kicked off in Manhattan, caused massive congestion as protesters called to “shut it down for Palestine,” and made New Year’s resolutions to keep fighting for peace in the Middle East.

The demonstration was led by the People’s Forum of NYC, an organization that aims to foster social movements that defend marginalized communities.

The protest was engined by a terrorist attack last year. The resistance group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,400 people and taking roughly 200 hostage. According to Gaza’s health ministry, 22,185 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s militarized attempts to rescue the hostages, and at least 57,000 Palestinians have been injured.

The fighting has rattled Jewish and Palestinian communities around the globe and created local tension between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian New Yorkers, who have clashed in several protests. Police also reported an alarming 135% increase in hate crimes toward the end of last year, with significant increases in bias incidents against both Jews and Muslims.

In the meantime, the conflict continues overseas — with locals hoping for an immediate end to the fighting.

Members of the Hasidic Jewish community also joined the protest, hoisting signs that read “Judaism rejects Zionism,” and “The State of Israel doesn’t represent us.”

“We call on all of Israel’s allies to demand an immediate ceasefire, cutting all aid to Israel, and lifting the siege on Gaza,” said a protester through a megaphone at the bridge.

The New York City Police Department prepared for a number of pro-Palestine protests citywide on New Year’s Eve and Day. John Hart, an assistant NYPD chief in charge of the department’s intelligence division, said prior to the protest that others of its kind have drawn between 1,000 and 5,000 people over the past few months.

“We’re prepared for them in any number,” Hart said ahead of the holiday weekend. “We will make sure this event stays safe.”

This isn’t the first time protesters used a holiday to draw attention to the conflict. Hundreds of protesters also took to the streets of Midtown, Manhattan on Christmas day, and a number of demonstrators interrupted both the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

New Year’s protests also took place across the country. At least one rally in Boston saw thousands call for a ceasefire on New Year’s Eve.

Heading into the new year, groups like the People’s Forum of NYC — whose mission is to build unity across historic lines of division in America and abroad — say they plan to keep fighting for Palestine. The group also hosts Palestinian film screenings and meetings to discuss courses of action to best support the victims of the war and organize rallies here in the Big Apple.

“We want to remind people here in New York that they are protesting for the freedom of artists, filmakers, families, hard working people, not just victims,” said Rita Saadi, member of the forum, in an interview.