Is blocking freeway traffic a good protest tactic? | The Tylt
In the wake of two more Black men killed by police officers, protesters have begun to use "shut it down" tactics, most notably organizing hundreds of people to march onto highways to bring traffic to a halt. There have been several examples over the weekend of freeways being effectively shut down by protesters.
On the one hand, this is an incredibly effective protest tactic. Many believe if you want to make change, comfortable people should be made uncomfortable. The issues that are being protested are pervasive and noxious. So normal day-to-day life has to be shut down until everyone stops to recognize these problems for what they are, life and death situations. Closing off a freeway is a good way to get the point across; that way everyone can be made aware and actually hear the issues. Many organizers and activists use protesting as a strategy to demand people listen to issues that they might normally ignore, a way to call out privileged people for not speaking up about police brutality and other social justice issues.
But some critics say that protesting is also about winning people over to your side. It can be a turn-off for some people that their daily lives are disrupted, perhaps even for a cause they already, in principle, agree with. The protest, they say is between protesters and the criminal justice system, not regular people going about their lives. Even worse, some argue shutting down freeways is a public safety/health risk, as some people might urgently need to go somewhere for health reasons.
The right to protest isn't in question. But this is ultimately a debate about two schools of protest, no matter what is the issue. Which form of protesting will better win over hearts and minds? So ...
What do you think? #BlockTraffic or #DontBlockTraffic?
Is blocking freeway traffic a good protest tactic?
Black Lives Matter use shut downs as an effective form of protesting.
Some just don't like it when protesters block traffic out of concerns for safety.
A year later I'm still shaking in anger. What if we were an ambulance? Or a fire truck? No regard for safety when you block traffic.— Bethany S. Mandel (@bethanyshondark) July 10, 2016
Others stand in solidarity.
On my way home I saw a sign that said the I-40 bridge was closed and I felt proud. The BLM protest today shut it down.— [TO BE CONTINUED|/] (@whiskeytits24) July 11, 2016
But cities like Atlanta and Newark are worried about public safety.
ATL mayor Kasim Reed says it's OK to protest, but not at the expense of public safety.
Reed reaffirms right to protest, but says it won’t come at expense of public safety, “innocent motorists.”— Michell Eloy (@michellreloy) July 11, 2016
Mayor Reed says he is considering a curfew after days of protests here in Atlanta— Michell Eloy (@michellreloy) July 11, 2016