The massive traffic nightmare Thursday morning that was caused by a pro-Gaza-ceasefire protest on the westbound Bay Bridge meant that several donated organs that were in transit to and from UCSF hospitals were delayed in getting transplanted into patients. And a couple people appear to have been caught up in the chaos who were not part of the protest group.
If you were a patient awaiting a transplanted organ Thursday, you may have had to wait an extra four or so hours, due to the traffic backup that was caused by pro-Gaza-ceasefire protesters on the Bay Bridge. The protesters arrived in a phalanx of vehicles on the western span around 7:41 a.m. and the subsequent arrests and removal of their vehicles proceeded to take around four hours, causing a backup on I-80 back to Ashby Avenue in Berkeley, and well past the MacArthur Maze in Oakland.
As the Chronicle reports, UCSF transplant surgeon Dr. Garrett Roll made it known that the protest did not just disrupt a few hundred people's commutes, but also delayed some vital surgeries. Dr. Roll said three organs were traveling via courier either to or from UCSF's San Francisco facilities Thursday morning, and at least one had to be re-routed via the Golden Gate Bridge — a process that reportedly took four hours, as opposed to the expected 30 minutes.
The specific organs were not mentioned, and Dr. Roll said the patients would likely be alright, but he said that any delay like this can cause a recently removed organ to be slower to "wake up" in the new patient, causing potential complications.
There were also a couple of people just trying to get over the bridge Thursday morning who ended up among the 70 people arrested, as KTVU reports.
Among them were Masoud Barukzai, a retired firefighter from Pleasanton, who tells the station that he feels he was racially profiled after he got out of his car to intervene in a situation he saw as being unjust. Barukzai said he observed a woman, clearly stressed about being late for work, go to the trunk of her car to retrieve something, or look at what appeared to be rolled-up architectural drawings, and CHP officers on the scene accused her of having a Palestinian flag in her car.
"Police officers were saying she had Palestinian flags in her trunk, and she should be arrested," Barukzai tells KTVU. "I voiced that they were not. I told them I was a witness and I think because I chimed in, I was next to get arrested."
Stanford physics professor Lauren Tompkins was also among the front group of cars, and she tells KTVU that she also got out of her vehicle when she saw Barukzai getting arrested, and she thought it was unjust.
"I heard a police officer say, ‘Hey that person has a pro-Palestine banner,’" she said. "It’s illegal. They appear to be arresting people based on what was on their cars and not any actual evidence that they were participating in the action. I was told to get back in my car and I did."
Tompkins said an officer then came to her car and told her she was being arrested for "defying a lawful order." She was then handcuffed, and both she and Barukzai were among the 70 or so arrested in connection with the protest.
This was the third major protest-related disruption on the Bay Bridge in seven years, the most recent having been during the George Floyd protests in 2020.
Photo: Tyler Casey