It touched a nerve when activists took to Interstate 95 Tuesday night and shut it down for at least 15 minutes.
Blocking traffic has nothing to do with racial injustice, some said. Others worried that an ambulance might be delayed in route to the hospital. It’s plainly dangerous to both protesters and motorists and everyone feels a little uneasy that a few dozen otherwise peaceful people can bring the busiest highway in the nation to a screeching halt.
The tactic drew a sharp rebuke from some – many of whom are not otherwise receptive to addressing racially-charged issues – but also managed to propel the protest onto the front page of the Providence Journal and it was highlighted by nearly every local news outlet. As a protest tool, it’s hard to argue it didn’t accomplish it’s objective – which was to call attention to the Ferguson ruling, racial inequality and police brutality.
And it happened all over the country. From San Diego to Providence, police arrested hundreds of people who took to highways protesting the Ferguson ruling.
The 580 in Oakland and the 101 in Los Angeles were shut down on both Monday and Tuesday nights. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago was blocked by protesters, as was the Stemmons Freeway in Dallas. Activists blocked Interstate 75 in Atlanta and in Detroit. Protests took over highways in Nashville, Durham, Baltimore and Cleveland. The FDR Highway and the Brooklyn Bridge both succumbed to protests. In no less than 20 American cities, activists took to the streets this week to stifle traffic.
It’s not a new tactic in the civil unrest that’s broken out since Michael Brown’s death. Ferguson protesters tried it in St. Louis in September and in Atlanta in October. On Saturday, it was used in Ferguson, where 15 people were arrested. The New York Times reports:
“Although the authorities arrested more than a dozen people, the demonstration was far from a repeat of the rioting early in the week, which was defined by gunfire, looting and arson.
Instead, protesters opted for a common and less provocative tactic: blocking traffic along South Florissant Road near Ferguson’s police station, which is now protected by the St. Louis County police and members of the Missouri National Guard.”
Here’s a roundup of protests that closed roads from around the country….
- Video: Providence Ferguson protesters block I-95 – RI Future
- Ferguson protesters defend shutting down Route 95 in Providence – Providence Journal
— Bob Plain (@bobplain) November 26, 2014
- Police Struggle to Keep Peaceful Protesters Off of Boston’s Highways – Boston Globe
- 1,400 Boston Ferguson Protesters Tried to March Onto the Interstate – BostInno
— Steve Knecht (@steve_knecht) November 26, 2014
New York, NY:
- Protesters Take Over FDR, West Side Highway Night After Ferguson Decision – CBSNY
- 19 Photos From the Ferguson Protests That Shut Down New York City – News.Mic
Earlier (better photo) spilling into the FDR. Never seen anything like this in US. pic.twitter.com/QvzpU85dQu
— Melissa Gira Grant (@melissagira) November 26, 2014
Oakland, Calif. –
- Ferguson ruling sparks Oakland freeway shutdown, looting – SFGate
- Oakland: Ferguson protesters storm freeways again, some vandalism seen – InsideBayArea
— KQED News (@KQEDnews) November 25, 2014
— Kale Williams (@sfkale) November 26, 2014
Los Angeles, Calif.
- 101 Freeway shut down as Ferguson protesters snarl traffic for 3rd day – LA Times
- Protesters Block 101 Freeway Lanes – NBC4
San Diego, Calif. –
- Ferguson Protesters Block Traffic on 5 Freeway in San Diego – KTLA5
- Protesters Block I-5 in San Diego, Motorists Furious – San Diego 6
Seattle, Wash –
- Ferguson Protests In Seattle Get Violent, Disrupt Freeway Traffic – Seattle CBSLocal
- Some Ferguson protesters run onto I-5 in Seattle – King5
Portland, Oregon –
- Portland protesters clog traffic, back up Interstate 5, bridges – OregonLive
- Ferguson protesters block traffic on highways, bridges in Portland; arrests made – KPTV
Cleveland, Ohio –
- Demonstrators block downtown Cleveland Shoreway, protesting Tamir Rice shooting, Ferguson decision – Cleveland.com
Detroit, Mich. –
- Ferguson protesters shut down I-75 in Detroit – WZZM
- Protesters block traffic in Detroit – ClickonDetroit
Chicago, Ill. –
- Peaceful march shuts down Lake Shore Drive after Ferguson decision – Chicago Tribune
— Danielle (@daneyvilla) November 26, 2014
Minneapolis, Minn. –
Atlanta, Georgia –
- 21 protesters arrested in Atlanta; I-75 briefly blocked – CBS46
- Police: 21 arrested as protesters march through Atlanta streets – WMAZ
Nashville Tenn. –
Durham, NC –
Washington, DC –
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) November 29, 2014
Baltimore, MD –
- Ferguson protesters take to Baltimore streets – Baltimore Sun
Dallas, Texas –
Albuquerque, NM –
Ithaca, NY –
- Ithaca protesters block streets in response to Ferguson – Ithaca Journal