MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For more than an hour on Saturday, there was no way to drive from Memphis across the Mississippi River into Arkansas and vice-versa.
Around 300 people protesting Israel’s war against Palestine blocked the Interstate 40 Hernando de Soto bridge from around 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
This came as the only other bridge across the river –a bridge that carries Interstate 55 — was closed for repair work.
Both bridges are now open.
The protest was organized by Memphis Voices for Palestine and Palestinian Memphians who have relatives in both Gaza and the West Bank, according to a report from the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
Jana Abuirshaid, the spokesperson for Memphis Voices for Palestine, told the newspaper that the protesters assembled Saturday to demand a ceasefire in the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. She said she felt a sense of guilt and obligation to speak on behalf of Palestinians who were in Gaza and the West Bank, while her own family had come to the U.S., according to the Commercial-Appeal’s report.
At first, protesters left the westbound lanes open, but at around 3:45 p.m., when the Memphis Police Department arrived, both lanes became blocked.
Cars and semi-trucks backed up for miles.
By 4:30 p.m., most of the protesters left the bridge, and by 5 p.m., the incident was over.
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.