Philadelphia’s Amtrak train station was overrun by hundreds protesters calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza on Thursday evening – as war continues to rumble on in the Middle East.
Police initially set up barricades near 30th Street Station in anticipation of the protesters – who ended up storming inside and initiating their own sit-in after blocking the entrance on the sidewalk.
Hundreds of demonstrators flooded inside the Amtrak station – which is Philadelphia’s largest – stopping commuters in their tracks, just before 7.30pm.
Local agencies said the main entrance to 30th Street Station was temporarily closed because of the protests, and passengers were told to enter through the side entrance on the northwest of the station.
The rally tonight was led by members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Philadelphia, the Philly Palestine Coalition, and IfNotNow Philadelphia.
Videos showed the groups holding placards reading ‘ceasefire now,’ and chanting while commuters attempted to get in and out of the terminal
Hundreds of demonstrators flooded inside and outside the Amtrak station, stopping commuters and locals from entering just before 7.30pm
Videos showed the groups holding placards reading ‘ceasefire now,’ and chanting while commuters attempted to get in and out of the terminal.
After making their way inside, the demonstrators sat on the flood inside the station’s main entrance with their signs held high, while singing ‘everyone for everyone, ceasefire now.’
One poster read: ‘Mourn the dead and fight like hell for the living.’
Others also let off red, black, and green balloons outside – the colors on the Palestinian flag – in protest.
Police were allegedly seen making arrests at the demonstration, and they loaded some of the people on to a bus, according to CBS.
Dani Noble of Jewish Voice for Peace told NBC10 ahead of Thursday’s rally: ‘We need an outcry from the faith-based community. From people who care about the lives and dignity of all people.
‘And we have seen so many communities coming together and doing just that and crying out for a ceasefire. Crying out for the end to genocide against Palestinians.’
Philadelphia Police said ahead of the rally: ‘We are closely monitoring the situation in Israel and Gaza and are working collaboratively with our local, state, and federal partners to stay informed.
Police were seen making arrests at the demonstration, and they loaded some of the people who took to the streets on to a bus, according to CBS
Since Hamas slaughtered over 1,000 Jews on October 7, riots and protests have exploded across cities and college campuses in the US
‘We remain vigilant and prepared for any situation that may arise.’
Jason Holtzman, the director of the Jewish Community Relations and the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said: ‘We mourn the loss of all civilian lives and it deeply pains me and deeply pains the Jewish community that innocent Palestinian civilians are being caught up in the crossfire and our becoming casualties of war.
‘Until that organization [Hamas] backs down and dedicates itself to surrendering and living peacefully next to Israel, there should be no cease-fire, no pause in hostility.’
Currently, there are no delays on Amtrak.
Since Hamas slaughtered over 1,000 Jews on October 7, riots and protests have exploded across cities and college campuses in the US.
Thousands of people gathered in Washington DC on October 18 – and as many as 300 were arrested inside the Capitol.
Last Friday, at least 200 pro-Palestine and Jewish protestors were arrested in NYC after storming Grand Central to demand a ceasefire – as Israel launched an ‘unprecedented’ bombing campaign on Gaza and stepped up ground operations.
Footage of protestors clashing with police surfaced in the wake of the event organized by members of the Jewish Voice for Peace.
The protest comes after similar demonstrations in NYC and DC
The group describe themselves as being the ‘largest progressive Jewish anti-Zionist organization in the world’ predominantly consisting of people from the Jewish faith.
Protestors at the ‘historic sit-in’ on the main concourse of the iconic Manhattan station could be heard chanting: ‘No more weapons, no more war. Ceasefire is what we’re fighting for.’
Other footage also showed a large crowd attempting to enter the station but being held back by NYPD officers trying to subdue the situation.
Signs were hung around the concourse, with one reading: ‘Palestinians should be free.’
Others said: ‘Mourn 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 on their intended protest, saying: ‘In the last two weeks, over 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis were killed.
‘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] through an immediate ceasefire.’
Subsequent videos emerged showing officers attempting to disperse the crowds inside the station, as well as some people being escorted out in handcuffs.
The New York Police Department said at least 200 people had been arrested, while protest organizers put the number at more than 300.
The Big Apple, which has the biggest Jewish population in the world outside of Israel, has been a hotbed for protests since the conflict started earlier this month.
Earlier Thursday, thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators marched from Wall Street to City Hall to protest against U.S. weapons manufacturers and investment companies and dozens of others have raged across the country and world.
Mayor Eric Adams said on Thursday that 233 people have been arrested at the over 100 protests and rallies held in the city.