The Unintended Brilliance of Shutting Down Traffic As a Protest

Yesterday evening, this happened:

Dupont shutdown

That’s some protestors shutting down D.C’s Dupont Circle over the Eric Garner grand jury dismissal (I think. There was also some raised hands/’Don’t Shoot’/Ferguson stuff going on). Even though the protest lasted for about thirty minutes, traffic in this area at about ~7:15pm is such a nightmare, so even after the protestors left, traffic was backed up for blocks in every direction–four major roads all pass through the circle.

For relatively little effort–agreeing to stand in crosswalks for thirty minutes–protestors were able to cause a major disruption. The irony is that those who are the maddest about the inconvenience are often those who oppose transit and traffic upgrades.

I have no idea if this makes people more or less sympathetic to the cause. Then again, being civil doesn’t really seem to be having much of an effect, so who cares?

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5 Responses to The Unintended Brilliance of Shutting Down Traffic As a Protest

  1. Joe Shelby says:

    I can say that back in the peak of the World Bank protests, when they would start their campaign on friday in rush hour, their blocking of 14th Street just north of the bridge (and thus backing up 395 which is already a tense commute in every day) really got them no friends at all. From that point on, nobody actually cared what the World Bank stuff was all about except the die-hards. They really did lose the cause for that morning’s action. There was absolutely no media or public sympathy for those arrested afterwords.

    Now, this situation (police over-action and our right to live) is certainly different from the much more nuanced issues of corporate oligarchy and third world debt, but there we are.

    Civil disobedience still needs to be targeted properly to be effective.

  2. dr2chase says:

    If you think they’re doing it wrong, perhaps you could take the time to show them how to do it right.

  3. jurassicpork says:

    Well, my first thought is what negative impact will this have on emergency traffic (i,e. EMS, fire department, police calls, etc). If they’re costing people their lives, then, no, I can’t be on board for this.

    • dr2chase says:

      This is not a problem we actually worry about, else we would have taken steps (congestion charges, e.g.) to ensure that traffic jams don’t impede emergency vehicles, like they do every single damn day. People on foot are small and nimble; they can get out of the way in a hurry, and can locate the sirens before drivers are even sure that they hear them.

  4. edivimo says:

    In my country, Costa Rica, we had that argument years ago, and people don’t like traffic disruptions, but protests don’t stop.
    Years ago,the supreme constitutional court sided with the protestors with the ruling that the public streets were used for protestors for their right to assembly, free-speech and transit and the inconvenience of the free-transit of the non-protestors can’t triumph the former’s rights…
    The last time the government tried to crush a big protest didn’t ended well for them

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