How Boston Activists Shut Down I-93

| Resist!

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:


Below are photographs from the Boston Globe taken by Scott Eisen unless otherwise indicated.

Protesters block highway while cement-filled barrels are removed from a truck.

Protesters block highway while cement-filled barrels are removed from a truck. Furnished by Zoe Rose de Paz.

  #BlackLivesMatter Two protesters chained their arms together inside a barrel in Milton.  

Protesters attached themselves to 1,200-pound barrels.

Protesters attached themselves to 1,200-pound barrels.

 

Barrels protesters attached themselves to had warnings that they were dangerous to move.

Barrels protesters attached themselves to had warnings that they were dangerous to move.

 

Protesters lay in the highway attached to cement barrels.

Protesters lay in the highway attached to cement barrels.

Protesters shut down I-93 North at East Milton Square early Thursday by attaching themselves to cement-filled barrels and laying in the highway.

Protesters shut down I-93 North at East Milton Square early Thursday by attaching themselves to cement-filled barrels and laying in the highway.

Other protesters blocked traffic linked by PVC pipes. Furnished by Zoe Rose de Paz

Other protesters blocked traffic linked by PVC pipes. Furnished by Zoe Rose de Paz

 

Police surrounded protester to prepare to remove him from barrel.

Police surrounded protester to prepare to remove him from barrel.

 

An officer sliced through one of the barrels with a power saw.

An officer sliced through one of the barrels with a power saw.

 

A firefighter used a power saw to cut through a barrel.

A firefighter used a power saw to cut through a barrel.

A cut-open concrete-filled barrel used by I-93 protesters Thursday morning (Massachusetts State Police, via Facebook)

A cut-open concrete-filled barrel used by I-93 protesters Thursday morning (Massachusetts State Police, via Facebook)

 

After being removed, blockaders are arrested.

After being removed, blockaders are arrested.

Another blockader arrested.

Another blockader arrested.

And, another. In all 29 were arrested blocking two highways in Boston.

And, another. In all 29 were arrested blocking two highways in Boston.

 

  • AlanMacDonald

    The supposedly liberal / progressive Masshole Dems were calling for long prison sentences and massive fines.

    Anyone who confronts this Disguised Global Capitalist EMPIRE is going to be treated like a confrontive ‘subject;’ of the Empire by both the Vichy parties supportive and responsive only to the EMPIRE and totally tyrannical to the citizens of this “Occupied” country.

    Now, at least we know which team all the treasonous political shills are on.

    There is NO ZERO allowance for free speech and action.

    The Empire is beginning to come down very very hard with domestic tyranny on any who ‘act up’ against the EMPIRE.