‘Cease-fire Now!’ protest fills 30th Street Station

As the clock struck 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 2, over 300 people began to fill the huge center lobby of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, unfurling giant banners that read “Cease-fire Now!” Many sat down in protest to demand an end to the Israeli genocide in Gaza. A large number wore black T-shirts with the slogan “Jews say cease-fire now” on the back.

Rush hour protest fills 30th Street Station ‘grand’ hall calling for ceasefire now, Philadelphia, Nov. 2, 2023. (WW Joe Piette)

Hundreds more people protested outside the station with signs and huge Palestinian flags after police blocked all access doors shortly after the sit-in began. 

The rush hour protest organized by Philadelphia Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow was an interfaith gathering calling on elected officials to demand a cease-fire in Israel’s war on Palestine. Many demonstrators carried small Palestinian flags. The protesters chanted and sang continuously throughout the entire action. 

Delegation of interfaith clergy stands atop 30th Street Station information center, Philadelphia, Nov. 2, 2023. (WW Joe Piette)

Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority trains and buses, which board at entrances separate from the station, were not impacted; however, the police blockade kept passengers from reaching the SEPTA Regional Rail train entrances inside the building.

For the first few hours of the protest, other than being denied access to the building by police, the passengers inside were freely able to board trains. However, at around 7:00 p.m., demonstrators began to actively block stair entries to Amtrak train platforms, chanting “No cease-fire, no trains!” 

Police begin arrests of demonstrators blocking Amtrak train entrances around 9:00 pm, Philadelphia, Nov. 2, 2023. (WW Joe Piette)

Around 9:00 p.m., police began arresting demonstrators who refused to stop blocking entrances at several Amtrak gates. According to a press release from the organizers, hundreds of protesters were arrested. Most were escorted out of the station by police and released with citations; at least 25 were taken into custody and released later on misdemeanor trespassing charges.

The demonstration followed last week’s action at Grand Central Terminal in New York City when hundreds of advocates with Jewish Voice for Peace were arrested.

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