The Museum of Modern Art in New York was forced to shut down Saturday as more than 500 pro-Palestinian protesters flooded into the building’s second-floor atrium in a massive sit-in demonstration. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The Museum of Modern Art in New York was forced to shut down Saturday as more than 500 pro-Palestinian protesters flooded into the building's second-floor atrium in a massive sit-in demonstration.
By some estimates, as many as 800 organized protesters swarmed the building around 3:30 p.m., chanting "Free, free Palestine!"
A number of the activists fanned out and quickly distributed up to 1,000 pamphlets that accused MoMA's board of trustees of playing a central role in providing funding and weapons to the Israeli military amid accusations of genocide in Gaza.
On the second floor, protesters hung a large banner that read "MoMA Trustees Fund Genocide, Apartheid, and Settler Colonialism," while similar displays were placed on the third and fifth floors, calling for a ceasefire in the war against Hamas.
After about 15 minutes of chaos, museum security sealed off the galleries and began turning away paying customers.
The art publication Hyperallergic spoke to some protesters who shared a prevailing belief that the museum was "funding genocide."
The protest lasted until about 5:15 p.m., when the crowd spilled back into the streets of Manhattan.
Elsewhere, about 300 pro-Palestinian protesters descended on the Brooklyn Museum in a similar demonstration, leading to four arrests, the New York Post reported.
The protests take place after more than a hundred New York cultural figures signed a joint letter slamming "the disgraceful silence of our institutions as Israel commits genocide in Gaza."
The spontaneous protests have embroiled the five boroughs since the war erupted on Oct. 7, with coordinated disruptions to traffic and business across the city.
In early January, 325 pro-Palestinian protesters were reportedly arrested after they blocked rush-hour traffic on bridges and inside a tunnel, disrupting travel into and out of Manhattan.
And a group of about 200 pro-Palestinian protesters flooded Times Square and other parts of New York City after police blocked the crowd from entering the American Museum of Natural History in December.
At the time, protesters also claimed that Israel was openly committing war crimes in Gaza during its war with Hamas.