Khuan-Yu Hall, Contributing Photographer

At least nine protesters were arrested on Thursday night by Metropolitan Transportation Authority police during a sit-in at Union Station.

For nearly six hours, about 100 protesters — including Yale students — blocked the staircase and escalators that lead from the station to the tracks to demand that Rep. Rosa DeLauro call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and stop voting for military aid to Israel. Organizers wrote in a statement to the News that the goal of the sit-in was to “end business as usual” during what they described as a genocide in Gaza. Israel disputes charges of genocide. Several event attendees told the News that they participated with the intention of police arresting them.

Dave Steckel, the MTA media liaison, wrote to the News that the nine people arrested were issued misdemeanor summons for second-degree breach of peace, which is the “intent to cause inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm or recklessly creating a risk thereof.”

Event attendees disputed the number MTA police offered, saying that 13 people received charges of breach of peace. Steckel declined to comment on the discrepancy, and the News was unable to independently verify either count. The News could not confirm whether Yale students were among those arrested.

During the sit-in, which lasted from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., protesters chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Get up, get down, we’re anti-war in this town” as they blocked the main stairwell and escalators to the platform. protesters hung a banner over the timetables that read “DeLAURO STOP FUNDING GENOCIDE.” 

According to multiple attendees and video obtained by the News, the protesters directly at the top and bottom of the staircase and escalators locked themselves together with bicycle locks and PVC pipes. While this blocked the stairs and escalators, passengers were still able to get from the station to the tracks using the building’s elevators. 

Around 11 p.m., at least nine and possibly as many as 13 attendees on the bottom floor of the station blocked the elevators to provoke arrest, according to several attendees. They were quickly arrested by MTA police. The rest of the protesters left the station around the same time. Some protesters continued demonstrating outside the station past midnight. 

Steckel wrote that no protesters were detained in a cell after the arrests, and all protesters left the station by 11:00 p.m. Some protesters continued demonstrating outside the station past midnight. 

“We wanted to escalate so that people in ‘lock boxes’ could get arrested because we wanted the image of law enforcement cutting them up,” said one attendee, to whom the News granted anonymity due to safety concerns. “That was the whole purpose of being locked down — you are intending to be arrested after law enforcement ‘unlocks’ you.”

Breach of peace is a Class B misdemeanor in Connecticut and carries penalties of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Advocates in New Haven and across Connecticut have protested since October in support of a permanent ceasefire to end Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, through which Israel has killed over 32,000 people in Gaza, though experts believe thousands more to be dead. Israel has undertaken the offensive in response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, in which Hamas killed 1,200 people and took over 250 people as hostages.

The sit-in was organized by what several attendees interviewed by the News described as a collection of individuals who took issue with DeLauro’s support for military aid to Israel and refusal to call for a permanent ceasefire. 

“The point of direct action is to disrupt the business as usual, and really bring attention to these causes,” Abdul Osmanu, a Hamden Town Councilor who attended the sit-in, said. “Oftentimes the needle really doesn’t move without any real meaningful direct action.” 

Osmanu also argued that DeLauro was ignoring the will of her constituents, citing polling that shows the majority of Democrats support a permanent ceasefire in Gaza.

On March 7, DeLauro — who represents New Haven — put out a statement calling for a six-week ceasefire.

“We must work to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza, free all the hostages held by Hamas, and enact a six-week ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict that allows for the protection and survival of innocent Palestinian civilians caught in the middle of war,” DeLauro wrote. 

On March 22, DeLauro voted for a $1.2 trillion government funding package which passed overwhelmingly and included $3.3 billion in aid to Israel’s military.

DeLauro did not respond to a request for comment on the sit-in or arrests.

The protesters also held an Iftar — the evening meal that breaks the fast for Muslims observing Ramadan — during the sit-in. Osmanu, who is fasting for Ramadan, said that people brought water, dates and pizza, which enhanced the sense of community among the protesters. 

Adam Nussbaum ’25, who participated in the sit-in, said that he had met with staff from DeLauro’s office earlier in the day alongside a delegation from Yale Jews for Ceasefire and described the meeting as frustrating. The protest, by contrast, brought him hope. 

“I think it can easily feel cynical, and in moments like these, seeing so many people rally and put their bodies on the line — saying that we won’t stand for this injustice and this sort of death-making is very moving,” Nussbaum said. “I feel very inspired by it. It just makes me feel like we will win.”

One bystander, who asked only to be identified by their first name Ty due to fear of retaliation from their employer, told the News that they arrived at Union Station around 7 p.m. to catch a train. They said that while they could have gone around the protest to board, they felt “uncomfortable” with breaking the line and wanted to support the ongoing protest.

They added that the protest was “very peaceful” and “powerful,” and that they believed the police were aggressive in their removal of protesters from the stairwell area. Ty ended up taking a train on Friday instead.

Shilpa Patel, a worker at the Sbarro in Union Station, said that the MTA Police “did their job” but that the police were not able to control the protesters as they blocked the escalator and elevator. 

According to attendees and video of the event obtained by the News, more than 30 police officers from four departments — New Haven police, Amtrak police, MTA police and Connecticut State police — were present at the protest, though only MTA police made arrests. 

The Union Station sit-in followed a protest on the New Haven Green Thursday afternoon where approximately 100 Yale and New Haven community members gathered to urge New Haven officials to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. An organizer for the New Haven Green protest told the News that the rally on the green and Union Station sit-in were planned separately. At the end of the rally, the organizers informed protesters that they could march to Union Station to support the action. 

DeLauro has represented New Haven since 1991.

Anika Arora Seth, Khuan-Yu Hall and Kenisha Mahajan contributed reporting.

Tristan Hernandez covers student policy and affairs for the News. He is also a copy editor and previously reported on student life. Originally from Austin, Texas, he is a sophomore in Pierson College majoring in political science.
Nathaniel Rosenberg is City Editor for the News. He previously served as Audience Editor, where he managed the News's newsletter content, covered cops and courts and housing and homelessness for the City Desk. Originally from Silver Spring, MD, he is a junior in Morse College majoring in history.