How Boston Activists Shut Down I-93
Above: Boston Globe image of the highway shutdown in Boston.
Regarding the Inconvenience: “Disruptions are temporary. Structural racism in this country is ever-present.”
This week as part of #ReclaimMLK Boston activists shut down a highway. They did so with an interesting blockade tactic — filing a container with cement and putting their arms into it. Here is how Associated Press described what happened:
Activists protesting what they call “police and state violence against black people” chained themselves to concrete-filled barrels and blocked a busy Boston-area highway at the height of the Thursday morning commute.
State police shut down northbound Interstate 93 south of the city, and I-93 south, in Medford, north of the city, at about 7:30 a.m., inconveniencing thousands of drivers and causing miles-long backups.
The southbound lanes were reopened at about 8 a.m. and the northbound lanes at about 10 a.m. after police and firefighters used power saws to cut protesters out of the barrels to which they were attached while lying in the roadway.
The protesters north of the city chained themselves together using plastic pipes.
A total of 29 people were arrested at the two protest sites. They were expected to be arraigned later Thursday.
The protest was intended “to confront white complacency in the systemic oppression of black people in Boston” the Boston contingent of Black Lives Matter said in a statement.
“Today, our nonviolent direct action is meant to expose the reality that Boston is a city where white commuters and students use the city and leave, while black and brown communities are targeted by police, exploited, and displaced,” protester Katie Seitz said in a statement.
From the press release of #BlackLivesMatter Boston explaining their actions:
Today, our nonviolent direct action is meant to expose the reality that Boston is a city where white commuters and students use the city and leave, while Black and Brown communities are targeted by police, exploited, and displaced,” said Korean-American activist Katie Seitz.
In the past 15 years, law enforcement officers in Boston have killed Remis M. Andrews, Darryl Dookhran, Denis Reynoso, Ross Baptista, Burrell “Bo” Ramsey-White, Mark Joseph McMullen, Manuel “Junior” DaVeiga, Marquis Barker, Stanley Seney, Luis Gonzalez, Bert W. Bowen, Eveline Barros-Cepeda, Daniel Furtado, LaVeta Jackson, Nelson Santiago, Willie L. Murray Jr., Rene Romain, Jose Pineda, Ricky Bodden, Carlos M. Garcia, and many more people of color. We mourn and honor all these lives.
We must remember, Ferguson is not a faraway Southern city. Black men, women, and gender-nonconforming people face disproportionately higher risk of profiling, unjust incarceration, and death. Police violence is everywhere in the United States.
To those concerned about disruptions as a tactic, we agree it is a tactic to use carefully and with consideration. The #BlackLivesMatter movement’s use of shutdowns has been very effective, consider this:
Disruptions are temporary. Structural racism in this country is ever-present. These disruptions don’t occur in a vacuum. Context informs them. To get that many people to disrupt life all across America means that the legal, less risky channels for addressing one’s grievances have been exhausted. Petitions, sanctioned marches, recording the police, and lawyering up have failed.
State Senator Jamie Eldridge used the #BlackLivesMatter protest to announce a series of bills to reform police actions:
— Jamie Eldridge (@JamieEldridgeMA) January 15, 2015
Below are photographs from the Boston Globe taken by Scott Eisen unless otherwise indicated.