Jan 26, 2024
OPINION – The Newest Form of Protesting (blocking roads) Achieves Nothing
During this past weekend, every school in the nation had Monday off, due to a very special reason. Martin Luther King Jr. Day marks a celebration of the achievements that MLK was known for throughout his life. His leadership played a huge role in the fight for civil rights and eventually was the reason for the success of the civil rights movement.
This made me think of the I-5 protests and especially the one that happened this month, in Seattle, protesting for a ceasefire in Palestine. I connected the two and thought about how and why MLK was so successful. A few words came to mind, iconic, powerful, tenacious, and driven.
He guided and was at the forefront of the most powerful parts of the civil rights movement. Montgomery Bus Boycott, Selma March, the March on Washington, the Letter from Birmingham Jail, the I Have a Dream speech.
MLK was a smart man. Not only was he charismatic, he constructed his speeches in a way that challenged the words and beliefs of others. In his famous, “I Have a Dream Speech”, he said, “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men — yes, Black men as well as white men — would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”. He praises the constitution and the work that went into obtaining freedom, but then challenges the words wrote, comparing it to the reality that he and many others lived.
In his last speech, the night before he was assassinated, MLK said, "I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
You could feel how strongly he believed in what he said. You could feel how strong his emotions were. There was so much passion, and his actions represented a purpose.
Fast forward to today, a new type of protesting has arrived and has taken over. Road blockage. We’ve all seen the videos of the climate change protesters gluing their hands to the cement in order to block roads or airplane runways. You just laugh at how stupid it is, but it’s become the new trendy way to protest. No more powerful speeches, no more huge, huge movements, none of that. Just people sitting in the road, hoping not to get ran over, somehow, and hoping to cause a change, somehow.
These types of protests are not just common under 1 cause anymore either, BLM protests, Palestine protests, Climate Change protests, you name it. For me, it hit close to home when I heard that protests were happening on I-5 in Seattle. When a road blockage occurs, you have no idea how it can affect the people stuck, trying to get past. Last month, Arizona Senator, John Kavanagh challenged the idea of road blocking protests and is working to construct a bill further prohibiting it. Relating to one of the protests, he stated, “No restrooms (were available); a couple of vehicles had organs that were supposed to be going to a place for a transplant”.
It’s counterproductive. You protest for your cause, but also negatively affect the lives of so many others in doing so. These types of demonstrations can also lead you to time in jail. The American Civil Liberties Union states, “Symbolic acts and civil disobedience that involve illegal conduct may be outside the realm of constitutional protections and can sometimes lead to arrest and conviction. Therefore, while sitting in a road may be expressing a political opinion, the act of blocking traffic may lead to criminal punishment”.
It is unconstitutional and can lead to protesters being arrested. I fail to see the point and message of this type of protest. If one feels strongly about a current world issue, this is not the way to express those feelings.