SAN FRANCISCO - President Joe Biden held a fundraiser in San Francisco on Tuesday, coinciding with his arrival for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. In response, as many as one thousand protesters filled city streets urging the president to back a ceasefire in Gaza.
The pro-Palestinian protesters gathered in downtown San Francisco's Financial District at California and Montgomery streets, waving flags and chanting. The protest remained relatively peaceful.
Demonstrators marched along Market Street, entering an area designated as closed during the APEC conference.
The demonstrators planned on proceeding towards the Ferry Building and then rally outside the Israeli consulate near Montgomery and Sacramento streets. At one point, they locked arms before they eventually left.
SFPD said the protest wrapped up peacefully and that no arrests were made. California and Montgomery is the site of the Merchant's Exchange building – where the campaign fundraising event was held.
Drivers trying to leave the Financial District honked their horns as they got caught in the backup. when police stopped traffic at the height of the evening commute shortly before 5:30 p.m. This was to accommodate two motorcades that came through; presumably transporting the president and vice president to the fundraiser event. The fundraiser was also attended by California Gov. Gavin Newsom and his first partner. A source said 250 people attended the event.
The goal of the demonstration was to capture the attention of the president and other global leaders visiting the Bay Area. However, the protest did not disrupt the fundraiser.
"It was pretty cool to see the light, all the cars coming in, I know there's pretty important people in town and that's why there's so much traffic," said Manuela Baez who lives in the Financial District.
Another woman normally commutes to the city from Petaluma. "It was very exciting, but I wish I could see who was there," said Dominique Alary of Petaluma. She said she found a way to avoid APEC traffic. "A friend of mine let me stay at her condo. I was kind of worried about transportation."
Biden, who arrived in the afternoon, is gearing up for a highly anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that would mark their first engagement in nearly a year.
Their head-to-head meeting will take place at the bucolic Filoli estate in Woodside, south of the city, for four hours on Wednesday, according to the Voice of America.
Prior to his departure from the White House early Tuesday, Biden expressed his aim for the meeting: to get U.S. and China relations back onto a "normal course."
A KTVU camera was present when Biden's motorcade passed through the South of Market neighborhood this afternoon. Vice President Kamala Harris's motorcade also took the same route along 3rd and Harrison streets when she arrived.
Spectators said the thought of having so many world leaders in San Francisco is unprecedented and exciting.
The President and First Lady Jill Biden are slated to host a welcome reception for other world leaders attending the summit. Singer Gwen Stefani is reported to perform at Biden's event at the Exploratorium in San Francisco on Wednesday night.
In addition to the meeting with Jinping, Biden is scheduled to address the conference and host the heads of delegations for the APEC dinner. The APEC Leaders Retreat, hosted by Biden, is set for Friday, concluding his visit to San Francisco.