During a protest near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) on Wednesday, tensions escalated, resulting in a police officer being thrown to the ground, according to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The demonstration, which disrupted traffic and impeded travel during one of the busiest weeks of the year, prompted authorities to make 36 arrests.

The protest initially centered around LAX’s entrance on Century Boulevard, later spreading to other nearby locations. Concerns for public safety led authorities to advise drivers to avoid the airport vicinity. Debris, including road signs and tree branches, was observed obstructing lanes on Century Boulevard.

Video footage captured law enforcement taking protesters into custody, and the LAPD reported that among those arrested, some were suspected of rioting, while one individual faced charges of battery on a police officer. The LAPD issued a statement condemning the violent turn of events, emphasizing their commitment to upholding public safety and protecting the First Amendment rights of peaceful demonstrators.

The LAPD stated, “Protestors threw a police officer to the ground, used construction debris, road signs, tree branches, and blocks of concrete to obstruct Century BLVD while attacking uninvolved passersby in their vehicles. This unlawful behavior is dangerous and will not be tolerated.”

While specific details about the motives behind the protest were not immediately available, signs and graffiti left by demonstrators referenced international conflicts, including the war in Gaza. The demonstration commenced around 8 a.m., coinciding with the peak of holiday travel at LAX, where over 1.9 million travelers were anticipated during the holiday period from December 15 to January 2. Authorities expected the busiest days to be December 21, 22, Thursday, and Friday.