Youngkin Criticizes Pro-Palestinian Interstate Protest as ‘Unacceptable’

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Virginia’s Governor Addresses Interstate Blockade by Pro-Palestinian Protesters

In a decisive response, Virginia’s Governor Glenn Youngkin condemned the actions of pro-Palestinian demonstrators who, on Monday, obstructed a portion of the interstate to voice their protest against Israel’s ongoing conflict with the Hamas faction in Gaza. “Obstructing interstates, jeopardizing Virginian lives, and creating chaos on our roads is utterly unacceptable,” stated Governor Youngkin. He expressed his gratitude towards the Virginia State Police for their swift and effective response, ensuring the safety and smooth flow of the morning commute.

The incident, which unfolded near Exit 78 along Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond, saw nine protesters arrested. They had ingeniously bound themselves together, effectively blocking the entire roadway. The Virginia State Police reported that the demonstrators employed ladders, a hefty metal chain, and “sleeping dragon” devices in their blockade. Eyewitness photos revealed the protesters donned sweaters with the message “STOP GENOCIDE,” making a bold statement against the violence.

Upon receiving multiple reports of the blockade around 6:54 a.m., state police swiftly arrived at the scene. They discovered the protesters lying in the southbound lanes, interconnected with ladders, a large metal chain, and the aforementioned “sleeping dragon” devices. By 7:09 a.m., an Unlawful Assembly was declared, and efforts were made to safely relocate the protesters to the roadside, leading to the arrest of three individuals who surrendered voluntarily. The interstate was reopened shortly after, at around 7:19 a.m.

Further assistance from specially trained officers led to the safe removal of six additional protesters from the blockade devices, which were identified as large PVC pipes wrapped in chicken wire and linked with a metal chain. These individuals were detained without incident and removed from the interstate.

The protest, aimed at drawing attention to the Israel-Hamas conflict, has sparked a global outcry over the civilian casualties, predominantly Palestinian. Governor Youngkin’s firm stance on the matter underscores the importance of public safety and order amidst such demonstrations.

Assistance from the City of Richmond Police, Fire Department, and the Virginia Department of Transportation was crucial in managing the scene, ensuring traffic safety, and communicating advisories to the public.

The arrested protesters face charges related to obstructing traffic, unlawful assembly, and pedestrian violations on the interstate. Despite the tense situation, there were no injuries reported among the protesters or law enforcement officers.

As Israel continues its battle with Hamas following the group’s surprise attack on October 7, the deadliest in Israeli history, the conflict has resulted in a tragic toll on both sides, with a significant number of Palestinian civilians among the casualties. This has fueled worldwide protests, calling for an end to the violence and a focus on peace.

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