Protesters Snarl Downtown Traffic

Trusty field reporter Cory Capron tells us (well, not “us,” but “me”…and there aren’t any cvillenews.com reporters, either, as long as I’m confessing, just my girlfriend’s brother, who just called me) that anti-war protesters have completely blocked the Ridge-McIntire/West Main Street intersection, at the Lewis and Clark statue. Motor traffic has come to a standstill, with angry motorists getting out of their cars in the rain. police attempting to control the situation, and ambulances arriving at the scene, indicating that fighting has probably started. 03/21 Update: Be sure to read the comments for a better description of what happened.

16 Responses to “Protesters Snarl Downtown Traffic”


  • indicating that fighting has probably started.

    Hooray for peace!

    Yeah, pissing off every motorist that passes you is a great way to convert people to your viewpoint!

    Hehehe….

  • This was staggeringly stupid of these protesters. I was at the last big protest, and there were about a half dozen kids dressed all in black, faces covered, that tried to egg on the crowd into blocking that very intersection. The crowd wisely refused, with only the occasional person believing that perhaps these individuals had some sort of leadership role to play in the event.

    Blocking traffic, as I’m sure others will say, serves only to set up protesters as the bad guys. And fights? Well, there’s nothing more antithetical to a peace protest than a brawl.

  • Reminds me of the time I went to a peace march and a hockey game broke out.

  • Tell me, was that career protester there who doesn’t bathe, calls himself "Spot" and wears little floppy doogy ears on his hat? This guys an idiot and when I think of C’ville protesters, I think of this guy. Protesters: take a bath, get a job!! Support your country or move to Iraq!

  • Hey, thought I’d send in my first-hand experience of the events. I was at the 2 PM walkout, the march to Downtown, and the arrest of the folks sitting-in at Virgil Goode’s office. It was wonderful seeing UVa students, Charlottesville anarchists, and hip Charlottesvillians all marching together. Totally inspiring. The events were completely nonviolent, though a motorist did reportedly threaten to start beating activists with a hammer. After being threatened with physical violence, we chose to leave the intersection and protest in front of the Federal building. The arrestees at Goode’s office included one professor and several Quakers.

    I believe the rationale for shutting down the intersection was to show that this isn’t just any day, that we’ve just invaded another country without UN support, and that business as usual is inappropriate.

  • Thank you for the firsthand info.

  • We seem to be jumping the gun and assuming that this was an act performed by all the protesters there, which is quite possibly not true. It could just as easily have been a small number of confrontational/violent protesters (like some of the anarchists who’ve shown up before) who did this, rather than everyone involved. It just seems a bit early to be speaking disparagingly of all the protestors when we don’t know who did what, yet.

  • The events were completely nonviolent, though a motorist did reportedly threaten to start beating activists with a hammer.

    Quite frankly, had you’d blocked my car as I’d attempted to navigate through the downtown, I might have done precisely the same and even joined in with the other fellow. Before you start to climb on the soap box and spit at me, don’t get me wrong on one point: you had every right to protest on public property and express anti-war sentiment.

    HOWEVER, the second you begin darting in and out of traffic like a gang of overmedicated pinheads and interfering with its normal flow, you not only break traffic laws but you also create a considerable amount of danger to other pedestrians, to law-abiding drivers who may or may not support the war and are otherwise minding their own business, and to medical and law enforcement personnel.

    Did it ever occur to you how close you were to both Martha Jefferson Hospital and UVA Hospital? What of some innocent party being brought in by ambulance for emergency treatment? What about police trying to deal with criminal activities or traffic accidents across town? Please tell me that you at least had enough presence of mind to let them pass…

    …Or was the fellow having the massive coronary in the back of the ambulance with the EMT’s frantically working on him also supposed to realize that “business as usual [was] inappropriate”? Exercise your moral rights under the First Amendment but show some common sense!!

  • The events were completely nonviolent, though a motorist did reportedly threaten to start beating activists with a hammer.

    Quite frankly, had you’d blocked my car as I’d attempted to navigate through the downtown, I might have done precisely the same and even joined in with the other fellow. Before you start to climb on the soap box and spit at me, don’t get me wrong on one point: you had every right to protest on public property and express anti-war sentiment.

    HOWEVER, the second you begin darting in and out of traffic like a gang of overmedicated pinheads and interfering with its normal flow, you not only break traffic laws but you also create a considerable amount of danger to other pedestrians, to law-abiding drivers who may or may not support the war and are otherwise minding their own business, and to medical and law enforcement personnel.

    Did it ever occur to you how close you were to both Martha Jefferson Hospital and UVA Hospital? What of some innocent party being brought in by ambulance for emergency treatment? What about police trying to deal with criminal activities or traffic accidents across town? Please tell me that you at least had enough presence of mind to let them pass…

    …Or was the fellow having the massive coronary in the back of the ambulance with the EMT’s frantically working on him also supposed to realize that “business as usual [was] inappropriate”? Exercise your moral rights under the First Amendment but show some common sense!!

  • Poppycock! Had the UN blessed this action, would you then have not felt the urge adn desire to protest? Be honest with yourself, and tell the truth to the rest of us.

  • your right. I was a bit pissed off after sitting in traffic watching these idiots yesterday. I shouldn’t have slammed that spot dude unless I actually saw him there. Thanks

  • Proper protesting is quite a muddy notion. With increased dialogue about demonstrations lately, it seems that a whole spectrum of motivations have been assigned to pro- and anti-war protestors. The least controversial of these is that demonstrators are simply participating in democracy. Others, such as some here, believe protestors are trying to make converts of spectators, and claim that blocking streets and creating disturbances is a self-defeating tactic.

    I think the truest motive of civil disobedience is the one that Throeau claimed: CD is the show that strong-minded citizens put on the for the meek. The demonstrators’ audience are all the obedient onlookers. The protestor means to show his audience that he believes strongly enough to overcome fear and put himself in a risky situation — to put his ideas in the open air, to put himself at risk of arrest, and to subject himeself to the raw feelings of those who oppose him. This idea, I think, legitimizes tactics like blocking streets.

    I wasn’t at this 3/20 protest, and so I don’t know whether to say the actions there were called for. I don’t think they are out of order by definition, and I don’t think they were useless. Bold actions like street occupation bring media attention and community discussion. Perhaps there were a few disgruntled motorists, but perhaps there was a fence-sitter watching on tv who now feels less fearful about voicing her opinion to her representatives and her community.

    As for masked, black-clad activists and stinky anarchists, I don’t know exactly what to say. Maybe the real issue is the number of people who are drawn to protests because of social interests — people who show up because they are part of a group, or thrill seekers who show up because CD can be an extreme sport. This bothers me, but I don’t know what to think or say about it. I would love to see Kropotkinist-style demonstrations with blocks of 1,000 thoughtful, well-educated demonstrators in suits with clear plans for productive change. Maybe every citizen deserves their say, though.

  • As a historical point: yet Thoreau was dead wrong in his objection to the Mexican-American War (the main immediate impetus for his writing “Civil Disobedience”), as its long-term benefits to the U.S., in terms of mineral, agricultural wealth, and trade far outweighed any short-term disadvantages it created within the country. Don’t tell me you think California’s been an economic & moral liability and we should rescind the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo & give the whole back to the Mexican government’s (mis)management. No one ever points out that, intellectual merits aside, Thoreau’s main premise for writing his essay has been proven utterly shortsighted and incorrect. Well, what could you expect from someone who so often lived off the largess of others with actual jobs?

    [“But the rich man–not to make any invidious comparison–is always sold to the institution which makes him rich. Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue; for money comes between a man and his objects, and obtains them for him; it was certainly no great virtue to obtain it.”–Thoreau]

    Was it all just crass envy on the part of a failed idealist? I do note the largely unwashed state of many of the protestors following in his footsteps, who appear at all hours of the day, seemingly lacking any regular employment or any other point to their lives. I was stunned by the dissheveled appearance of some of the (to quote Mencken) anthropoid rabble that showed up at the mass protest of a month or two back. *L*

    But, getting back to the point, wouldn’t potentially placing others at physical risk with one’s civil disobedience, be in violation of the thoughts of Transcendentalist nonviolence expressed by Thoreau and modified by his later acolytes, such as Gandhi? What about Gandhi’s “civil register,” derived in part from Thoreau? Thoreau doesn’t appear to have been an anarchist with contempt for all laws & a lust to see things burn, but just someone with a moral imperative to act against “unjust” laws. I couldn’t imagine Thoreau’s blocking off traffic in a vital thoroughfare of a city, near several hospitals, in order to make a point of civil disobedience.

    Quite frankly, after taking a straw poll of a number of my acquaintances of all political stripes, while I heard a good amount of support for the rights of the protestors to protest, I heard very little support for their right to block off traffic in a dangerous way. …And most bystanders were either infuriated or treating the whole thing as one big leftist circus, rather than, as you might hope, heading home, going through a dark night of the soul and reevaluating their pro-war stance or apathy. I see that the public polls for support for the war have ticked steadily upward the longer the protests have gone onward. Time to reevalute tactics, eh, comrades?

    What do I think?

    “There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, anytime.”–Coolidge (not quite in context, as his quote involved a labor dispute, but I agree with the sentiment)

  • But, getting back to the point, wouldn’t potentially placing others at physical risk with one’s civil disobedience, be in violation of the thoughts of Transcendentalist nonviolence expressed by Thoreau and modified by his later acolytes, such as Gandhi?

    Are you saying that Gandhi never blocked traffic?

  • Nope. But, I’ll bet he would have considered his tactics and potential harm to others from his actions more carefully.

    Can’t wait until the next time the C-fools try the same street blocking crap.

  • …And before anyone misinterprets my last post, that’s not any kind of veiled threat. I just can’t wait to see how the drivers react next time out. Bet they won’t be half as patient as the first time.

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