Police cuffed a swarm of protesters Friday night at Grand Central Station after they took part in a rush hour rally demanding a Middle East ceasefire three weeks after the terrorist group Hamas’ bloody assault on Israel.
Organized by Jewish Voices for Peace, hundreds of protesters — including an array of local elected officials — looked to garner attention in support of a ceasefire in Gaza by holding a “sit-in” in the iconic Grand Central’s Grand Concourse. The demonstration turned heads as the participants surrounded the landmark golden clock in the heart of the transit hub.
Climbing the staircase, protesters draped banners from the balcony while others scaled the departure boards. Amidst it all, hundreds sat on the ground chanting: “Let Gaza live!”
The protest occurred nearly three weeks after the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel in which Hamas murdered more than 1,500 people and kidnapped hundreds of others in a surprise ambush. Israel launched a counteroffensive on Gaza in an effort to root out Hamas, but pro-Palestinian protesters have since derided the action and called for a ceasefire.
During the chaos Friday, police shut down the entrances to Grand Central Terminal, leading to pushing and shoving as angry straphangers fought to access their trains.
After about an hour, police started making mass arrests, strapping hundreds with zip-ties, including elected officials such as Brooklyn Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which gained public criticism for its pro-Palestinian stance and calls for a ceasefire.
The protesters also criticized the Meeks-McCaul resolution, which condemns Hamas and Iran for supporting terrorism, endorses sanctions on Iran, and affirms additional support for the Israeli military.
Supporters of Israel charge that its armed forces have a right to defend its people after Hamas killed hundreds and took hundreds more, including children, hostage in a terrorist attack so deadly Israelis have dubbed it their 9/11.
However, those protesting on Friday evening are arguing that thousands of innocent lives are being lost during the continuous bombing of Gaza.
“In the last two weeks, over 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed. Every bomb dropped on Gaza threatens the lives of 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza and 200 Israeli hostages,” a statement from Jewish Voices for Peace read.
Since the Oct. 7 atrocities, New Yorkers have been at odds over the conflict, participating in well over 100 protests over the last several weeks. These demonstrations have resulted in over 200 arrests as of Oct. 25, according to the NYPD.