BLM Protesters March Through Traffic To The Capitol
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On my way back from the #ReclaimMLK rally on the Capitol steps, I heard a few cops and bystanders complaining how protesters were damaging cars and harassing drivers while they marched down J Street. I want to take the time to clarify what I myself witnessed during that portion of the march, with my own eyes and with my camera.

I was initially caught off-guard taking photos for the sanctioned march from the 12th St fountain,  as the marchers headed into the Convention Center from L Street. I knew a crowd was forming behind me, but I thought it was just the marchers hanging out before going in. But it got louder, and more crowded. I turned around and saw a sea of people that flooded 12th Street all the way back to J Street. After a brief rallying moment, an invitation was put out by organizers to join the protest march to the Capitol, which the crowd then moved back onto J Street. I accepted the impromptu invite and tagged along, camera rolling.

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The very, very diverse crowd that showed up behind me.

There was traffic on J Street, so I wondered how messy a crowd of protesters was going to try and push its way upstream. It turned out to be pretty effortless and non-confrontational. Many of the marchers simply “split lanes”  against the traffic, careful to avoid damaging vehicles. There were a few people who were tapping on windows, like a “hello in there” knock, but others discouraged them as soon as they saw it. While many motorists were peeved to be caught in an unexpected jam of people, some were curious enough to engage protesters, some were even supportive. I didn’t hear a cacophony of horns and obscenities, just cars slowly going in reverse to turn down any street to get out of the way. As the procession continued upstream on J Street, CHP had already made efforts to divert car traffic at 10th Street, opening up an unobstructed path for the marchers down to L Street, and then the Capitol. The on-duty offices seemed very casual about this unexpected and un-permitted procession, with minimal “show of force” presence, just enough uniforms to divert traffic and be barely visible. No riot gear, no SWAT team, no “on edge” atmosphere. 

As far as I can tell, the entire procession arrived safely at the Capitol steps without incident. Dr. King would have admired how civil this act of disobedience was, and how true the organizers were to his legacy. I’ll post my overall experience at the rally later, but I wanted to share this portion ASAP.

Related:

Reclaim MLK March and Rally

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