News

Stanford students arrested after protest shuts down San Mateo bridge

MLK Day civic action tied to Ferguson protest

Dozens of protestors, including Stanford students, were arrested Monday night after they shut down traffic for more than an hour on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, according to the California Highway Patrol.

More than 100 demonstrators stormed the Bay Area bridge in a "Reclaim MLK" rally late Monday afternoon, Jan. 19, to highlight injustices against African Americans.

The rally was to support the Ferguson Action's national demands, which include the demilitarization of local law enforcement and repurposing of law enforcement funds to support community-based alternatives to incarceration, Silicon Shutdown organizers said in a press release.

The group made their way on eastbound and westbound lanes of state Highway 92 on the bridge at the high-rise around 4:50 p.m., CHP Officer Daniel Hill said.

The protesters had been dropped off by cars on westbound lanes and briefly made their way to both sides of the freeway, he said.

The protesters blocked the westbound side of the bridge for 28 minutes to symbolize the fact that every 28 hours a black person is killed by a police officer or vigilante, organizers said.

During the protest, students held banners calling attention to the violence committed against black communities, as well as the Palestinian and Mexican flags as an act of public solidarity with victims of state-sponsored and U.S.-sponsored violence in Mexico and Palestine, organizers said.

The demonstration is one of several events nationwide coinciding with the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

"We are honoring MLK's legacy by forcefully reminding Silicon Valley that, decades after Martin Luther King, black lives, and brown lives, and the lives of all oppressed people, still matter," participant Maria Diaz said in the press release.

The group was given the opportunity to leave the scene peacefully, but 68 people who didn't comply with orders from officers were detained, Hill said.

The arrested protesters were transported to San Mateo County Jail, and charged with disobeying a lawful order of a peace officer and obstructing the free movement of others, Hill said.

The protesters were peaceful and did not become violent, he added.

— Palo Alto Weekly staff/Bay City News

Comments

2 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:11 pm

Robert is a registered user.

So you pay $45000 in tuition and other cost (Room & Board etc) and by walking on the bridge you make a difference. I would suggest for the same min $50k a year you can donate that to a cause which you can champion and help make a difference. Not opposed to the wealthy - I just think sometimes they have it misplaced. I am sure no one noticed and it was a blip in a moment in time. That same $50k could have crafted a commercial with the number arrested that may have spoken to millions.l


1 person likes this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:26 pm

pogo is a registered user.

I'm not sure how a year of tuition financially equates to a student spending an hour or two to protest a cause over a holiday.

While I don't agree with their cause (that Ferguson is an example of our police targeting minorities) or their methods (closing down the San Mateo bridge), I certainly respect any person's right to protest peacefully.


5 people like this
Posted by Maggie
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:43 pm

Conspiring to obstruct traffic, whether peaceful or not, is a felony and those puerile protesters should be charged with a felony. They did nothing to support their cause; quite the contrary. There are far more productive ways to support a cause. It's too bad those Stanford students don't have the smarts to understand the possible injurious consequences of blocking bridge traffic.

Since they are so proud of their actions, I'm sure they'd love to see their names in print. How about it?


4 people like this
Posted by Greenie
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 20, 2015 at 2:54 pm

Make these demonstrators, who created carbon pollution by holding up traffic, pay a carbon tax of $50/car times the number of cars that were held up. Then they should have their drivers licenses suspended for a year. They need to be sent a message that if they intentionally disrupt other people's lives then the painful lesson learned is that their lives will be disrupted as well. Then perhaps these puerile demonstrators will pause to reflect how their actions affect others and channel their dissatisfaction in a more constructive and considerate manner.

I have nothing against demonstrations but the demonstrators need to act responsibly.


4 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:08 pm

To use cars to block traffic on a bridge is grossly irresponsible. Those protesters, car owners and passengers, should lose their driving licenses.
I'd also suggest they spend their weekends picking up trash from our roads. Yes, they have the right to protest, but this was criminal behavior and accomplished nothing other than wasting police time and annoying people who were trying to get home after a long work day.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Since they have so much free time and money, perhaps all arrestees should perform 1,000 hours of community service. Charging a felony for what occurred on the bridge is an over kill.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jan 20, 2015 at 4:29 pm

They could have had this demonstration at the base of the Bridge in Foster City off the road so no traffic would have been stopped.
Here is what one of the protesters said.

“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,” said participant Maria Diaz ‘17. “We are honoring MLK’s legacy by forcefully reminding Silicon Valley that, decades after Martin Luther King, black lives, and brown lives, and the lives of all oppressed people, still matter.”


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Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 20, 2015 at 5:25 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

One wonders how many of those screaming about these protesters were protesting the Vietnam war back in the day. Quite a bit of "inconvenience" ensued from those protests/riots.


1 person likes this
Posted by Tricia
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

Rich spoiled brats !!!
Greenie has it right !
Trouble is, they get arrested for a felony and it's reduced to a misdemeanor and they are only slapped with a $25 fine. Our judicial system sucks!!
If more of these brats were jailed properly for obstruction of traffic it would deter others. And their parents should pay if they are under age.
I'm getting tired of watching these darn protests on the television and I change the channel at every opportunity.
Enough is enough.
Our laws have no teeth anymore.


4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

There have been several of these types of protests in the Bay Area recently. Shutting down BART, blocking the highways in Berkeley and now this. BART is attempting to get the protesters who arrested in one demonstration to pay for it, which has caused more protests. I am all for protesting peacefully, what I don't agree with is breaking the law to do so. If you willingly break the law to make a statement then you should also accept the consequences. In this case the students charged, if convicted, should be required to pay fines and face punishment up to and including community service. Stanford should also review their behavior and take action up to and including expulsion from the school.


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Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:51 am

pogo is a registered user.

Brian said: "I am all for protesting peacefully, what I don't agree with is breaking the law to do so."

Exactly.

But we all know that there are rarely consequences for those who do break the law.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 21, 2015 at 8:52 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Brian is exactly right - Don't do the crime unless you are prepared to do the time.

I had tremendous respect for Vietnam protestors who went to jail but loathed those who went to Canada.


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Posted by Michael G. Stogner
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

68 involved 10 arrested and taken to County Jail in RWC.

February 23,24, 2015 are the next Court Appearance dates


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Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Spiro Agnew was right at least part of the time


3 people like this
Posted by Stanford alum
a resident of another community
on Jan 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm

This is specifically directed to Tricia (of West Atherton) and her comments:

How terribly ignorant of you to assume that Stanford students are rich brats. I came from a middle class family and many of my classmates came from less means. Stanford has needs blind admissions, which means that students are admitted on their merit regardless of their ability to pay. Many of my classmates worked multiple jobs, took out loans and earned scholarships to pay for their tuition and expenses because their parents did not have the funds.

By all means debate the merits of blocking a major freeway, but calling the students "rich spoiled brats" is trite and shallow.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Now they can give each other high fives as they will also be charged with the accidents and injuries which occurred on the bride. One of the vehicles that dropped them off has been located and impounded. Expect more arrests.


1 person likes this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 22, 2015 at 4:53 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Regardless of whether or not the students involved are rich or poor they need to be accountable for both their actions and any consequences, i.e. automobile accidents, of their actions.

The tradition of civil disobedience embodies being willing to suffer the legal consequences of such disobedience.


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Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 22, 2015 at 6:32 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Right on Peter. Do not give me the excuse, yes I did it but should not be punished


2 people like this
Posted by Catherine McMillan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:07 pm

I completely agree with Stanford Alum -- and I am not an alum. I work on campus and work with many Stanford alums (staff and grads), interact with current students who need jobs, and also know that most students at Stanford receive a lot of financial aid. I may not agree with the disruption they caused, or how they expressed their views, and I don't frown on fines or whatever penalties they may have to be subjected to, as did others before them, but I am so glad to see young people getting engaged in current issues.


1 person likes this
Posted by Scott
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 23, 2015 at 6:51 am

Scott is a registered user.

From their perspective, they are participating in the defining civil rights struggle of their generation. They get my admiration for acting on the courage of there convvictions. Of course they will face the penalties. The penalties will be an interesting comment on the SMC legal culture and the DAs office.

Personally, I would rather see actions more focused - like protesting the shooting of the young girl in HMB. Blocking the bridge was a bad choice - not too symbolic. They would have protested bart but for some reason, we dont have bart on the penninsula.


1 person likes this
Posted by Boy
a resident of another community
on Jan 23, 2015 at 11:55 pm

To the protesters,

shame on you all, inconsiderate and selfish.


Like this comment
Posted by Tricia
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 26, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Apologies for the "Rich" part...
Sticking with spoiled, brats, and adding inconsiderate, ill mannered, selfish, rude, naive, egocentric and narcissistic.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford Alum
a resident of another community
on Jan 26, 2015 at 3:02 pm

Tricia:

I see that you have decided to double-down on your original post. One can argue that the students were inconsiderate to those stuck on the bridge, to be sure, but the rest of our adjectives are completely inappropriate, as well as ironic, given that your posts reflect some of those very same characteristics.


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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 27, 2015 at 10:18 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

". One can argue that the students were inconsiderate to those stuck on the bridge"

No, they broke the law and also cause a number of accidents - that is not "inconsiderate" except for those who dismiss the law as irrelevant.


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Posted by Stanford Alum
a resident of another community
on Feb 4, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Peter Carpenter: Inconsiderate is a completely appropriate word - we have many laws that are designed to both protect public safety AND to avoid unnecessary inconvenience, so one can break the law AND be inconsiderate at the same time.

We also have a long tradition of civil disobedience in our country. By your argument, MLK, Jr. and his followers shouldn't have "broken the law" by blocking roads while marching from Selma to Montgomery.

We can debate the merits of their choice to exercise civil disobedience in this way, however I stand by my objection to Tricia's name calling. And the students were arrested, so clearly the law was not "irrelevant."


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"By your argument, MLK, Jr. and his followers shouldn't have "broken the law" by blocking roads while marching from Selma to Montgomery. "

WRONG - I clearly stated "The tradition of civil disobedience embodies being willing to suffer the legal consequences of such disobedience." Martin Luther King willingly accepted that he would be put in jail, in fact he welcomed imprisonment to further his cause.

Another example of the true tradition of civil disobedience was Henry Thoreau. "Civil Disobedience" was Thoreau’s response to his 1846 imprisonment for refusing to pay a poll tax that violated his conscience.According to some accounts, Emerson visited Thoreau in jail and asked, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau replied, “Waldo, the question is what are you doing out there?”

So nameless Stanford alum - why should these students go to jail for their civil disobedience? Or is that asking too much of them to defend their beliefs?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2015 at 4:11 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is another great example for these Stanford students - David Harris.

"When Harris received his draft notice, he chose neither to report nor to flee to Canada, as draft evaders had frequently done. Harris was arrested in July 1969, and convicted of draft evasion, a federal felony. He was sentenced to a term in Federal Prison. He served about 15 months in various minimum- to medium-security prisons, where he led several hunger strikes: this provided an occasion for transfer to another prison. He was released on parole in October 1970. After his release, he gave talks about the experience. He said: "In prison, I lost my ideals, but not my principles."

Although I proudly served in Vietnam I deeply respected Harris (whom I met at Stanford when I was a PhD student at the Stanford Business School and a member of the Student Council.)


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