In response to President Trump’s executive order barring citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations from entering the United States, thousands of protesters gathered at the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX Sunday, eventually spilling out onto the roadway and forcing officials to divert traffic around the terminal.
The resulting traffic jam was slow-moving enough that many travelers began abandoning vehicles and trickling into the airport on foot.
Update: As of early Monday morning, protesters had dispersed and traffic was flowing through the central terminal area. The LA Times reports that all travelers affected by the ban have been processed, though it’s not clear whether more travelers will be held as the week goes on.
According to a press release from LAX, numerous airlines had to delay flights as crewmembers struggled to get to their respective terminals. There were, however, no reported cancellations.
Due to demonstration at #LAX passengers/motorists plan ahead, traffic congestion in Central Terminal Area & streets: https://t.co/h0pUOFJwnR— LAX Airport (@flyLAXairport) January 30, 2017
Officials are encouraging passengers to plan ahead and leave for the airport well in advance of their flights.
Meanwhile, though a federal judge blocked Trump’s controversial executive order Saturday, numerous passengers traveling to the United States from abroad remain detained in airports across the country.
Demonstrators gathered at LAX demanded the release of detainees, as police at the airport asked the crowd to move from the roadway. Inside the international terminal, protesters mixed with confused travelers, civil rights attorneys, and the anxious family members of arriving passengers.
It’s not the first time protests have broken out at LAX—demonstrators gathered there as recently as November advocating for a higher minimum wage. Still, the protests of this weekend have tested the busy airport’s ability to handle disruption.
A week after hundreds of thousands of marchers poured into the streets of Downtown LA—pushing Metro’s rail network to its absolute limit along the way—it’s starting to look like Trump’s presidency may present an unexpected challenge to Los Angeles’s infrastructure: how to accommodate throngs of angry people who refuse to respect the long-accepted authority of the automobile.