Philadelphia’s Amtrak train station was overrun Thursday evening by hundreds of protesters calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza as the war in the Middle East rages on.
Police initially set up barricades near 30th Street Station in anticipation of the protesters — who eventually stormed in and started their own sit-in after blocking the sidewalk entrance.
Hundreds of protesters poured into the Amtrak station — Philadelphia’s largest — just before 7:30 p.m., blocking commuters.
Local authorities said the main entrance to 30th Street Station was temporarily closed due to the protests and passengers were told to enter through the side entrance on the northwest side of the station.
Tonight’s meeting was led by members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Philadelphia, the Philly Palestine Coalition and IfNotNow Philadelphia.
Video footage showed the groups holding signs reading “ceasefire now” and chanting as commuters tried to enter and exit the terminal
Hundreds of protesters poured in and out of the Amtrak station, blocking commuters and locals from entering just before 7:30 p.m.
Video footage showed the groups holding banners reading “ceasefire now” and chanting as commuters tried to enter and exit the terminal.
After entering, the protesters sat on the floodwater at the station’s main entrance with their signs up, chanting “everyone for everyone, now a ceasefire.”
One poster read: “Marry for the dead and fight like hell for the living.”
Others also released red, black and green balloons – the colors of the Palestinian flag – outside in protest.
Police reportedly made arrests during the demonstration and, according to CBS, loaded a number of people onto a bus.
Dani Noble of Jewish Voice for Peace told NBC10 ahead of Thursday’s meeting, “We need an outcry from the faith-based community. From people who care about the lives and dignity of all people.
“And we’ve seen so many communities come together and do just that, and cry out for a ceasefire. Crying for an end to the genocide of the Palestinians.’
Philadelphia police said ahead of the meeting: “We are closely monitoring the situation in Israel and Gaza and working with our local, state and federal partners to stay informed.
Police were seen making arrests during the demonstration and loading some of the people who took to the streets onto a bus, according to CBS.
Since Hamas massacred more than 1,000 Jews on October 7, riots and protests have exploded in cities and college campuses across the US.
“We remain vigilant and prepared for any situation that may arise.”
Jason Holtzman, director of Jewish Community Relations and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said: “We mourn the loss of all civilian lives and it pains me and the Jewish community deeply that innocent Palestinian civilians are caught in the crossfire and that we become victims of war.
“Until that organization (Hamas) withdraws and commits itself to surrender and a peaceful life alongside Israel, there should be no ceasefire, no pause in hostility.”
Currently there are no delays on Amtrak.
Since Hamas massacred more than a thousand Jews on October 7, riots and protests have exploded in cities and college campuses across the US.
Thousands of people gathered in Washington DC on October 18 and as many as 300 were arrested at the Capitol.
Last Friday, at least 200 pro-Palestinian and Jewish protesters were arrested in New York after storming Grand Central to demand a ceasefire – as Israel launched an “unprecedented” bombing campaign on Gaza and stepped up ground operations.
Images of protesters clashing with police emerged in the aftermath of the event organized by members of the Jewish Voice for Peace.
The protest comes after similar demonstrations in NYC and DC
The group describes itself as the “world’s largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization,” made up primarily of people of the Jewish faith.
Protesters at the “historic sit-in” in the main concourse of Manhattan’s iconic station were heard chanting, “No more guns, no more war.” A ceasefire is what we are fighting for.”
Other footage also showed a large crowd trying to enter the station but was stopped by NYPD officers trying to contain the situation.
There were signs around the hall that read: ‘Palestinians must be free.’
Others said: “Loy for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” and another called for an immediate ceasefire in the region.
Jewish Voice for Peace issued a statement about their planned protest, saying: “Over 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis have been killed in the past two weeks.
“Every bomb dropped on Gaza threatens the lives of 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza and 200 Israeli hostages. The only way to save lives is an immediate ceasefire.”
Subsequent videos emerged showing officers trying to disperse the crowds inside the station, and some people being escorted out in handcuffs.
New York police said at least 200 people had been arrested, while protest organizers estimated the number at more than 300.
The Big Apple, which has the world’s largest Jewish population outside Israel, has been a hotbed of protests since the conflict began earlier this month.
Earlier Thursday, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched from Wall Street to City Hall to protest U.S. arms manufacturers and investment firms. Dozens of others have raged across the country and the world.
Mayor Eric Adams said Thursday that 233 people have been arrested during the more than 100 protests and rallies held in the city.