Pro-Palestine Protests Disrupt Traffic En Route to Oscars

The 2024 Oscars began six minutes late on Sunday when pro-Palestine protesters stopped traffic en route to the ceremony, blocking attendees in their cars on Hollywood’s Highland Avenue and calling into question if all of the night’s nominees would arrive at the event.

The demonstrators brought traffic at the intersection of Sunset and Highland to a complete standstill for more than 30 minutes, according to those caught in the disruption, causing some people to leave their vehicles and begin walking toward the event. Police arrived to disperse the blockage, but cars were still stuck at the time of publication. The protests ultimately led to the delay of the broadcast, which was meant to start at 4 p.m. PT; it ultimately began with a cold open at 4:06 p.m. PT.

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As the event’s expected guests passed, the direct action protest, calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, grew acrimonious, with some demonsrators yelling directly at people seemingly headed to the Oscars. Activists wearing Keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags shouted “shame” at people dressed in tuxedos and evening gowns. As they chanted “Ceasefire now!,” one protester flung red paint onto a man’s suit while he attempted to get to the ceremony and frazzled executives told The Hollywood Reporter of scenes of protestors hurling things at their vehicles.

The Academy gave some attendees rides to the event in golf carts. The Academy Awards’ private security, wearing identical tuxedos with “A” pins in their lapels, came down Highland Avenue and, at one point, seemingly to help escort arrivals through the protest. But the police turned them back.

The protest consisted of pro-Palestinian groups including Writers Against the War on Gaza L.A., Film Workers For Palestine and SAG-AFTRA Members for Ceasefire, according to a press release. Organizers and participants hoped the spectacle and disruption of the action would draw attention to the pending ground invasion of Rafah.

Many top Hollywood executives were delayed at least an hour because of the protest. Disney chief Bob Iger and his wife, Willow, were among those who were rushed into the awards at the last minute, as were Amazon executive Jennifer Salke and Paramount’s Brian Robbins, among others. One studio executive stuck in his car said he didn’t understand why it took so long for the cops to move the protestors.

“They knew it was happening,” he noted of the highly-anticipated ceremony. “And they allowed this to happen?”

SAG-AFTRA Members for Ceasefire organizer and actor Amin El Gamal told THR that plans for the protest had been in the works for months, growing partly from a dissatisfaction with the response of industry labor groups to the invasion.

As the chaos caused major delays, Academy staffers began radioing among themselves that the red carpet was being kept open later than expected. On the carpet, many publicists expressed confusion, unaware of the protests and describing the red carpet as “empty.” Most of the chaos was invisible to those watching the broadcast, which ran smoothly through the opening monologue and into the announcement of the winner of the first award handed out, best supporting actress.

The Los Angeles Police Department announced a citywide tactical alert Sunday in response to the protests, authorities confirmed. “A Dispersal Order was issued in the area of Sunset Boulevard and Cherokee Avenue for Unlawful Assembly. Stay away from the area,” the LAPD wrote on X, later tweeting to expect traffic delays.

—Borys Kit and Pamela McClintock contributed reporting.

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