Friday, January 16, 2015

Darling, That Protest Was So Very Gauche!

As you may be aware, I live in the Boston area. Today, 15 January 2015, we had our very own protest!
Image from @NewsAroundDot

I'm sure it was very exciting. According to the Boston Globe, protesters successfully blocked both the north and south bound lanes of I-93 stopping traffic from going into the city from either direction. And it was for a good cause: black lives do matter.

Sadly, this was quite possibly the most ill conceived protest I have ever heard of.


I don't commute into Boston for work (and I have a terrible habit of not listening to the radio out of a near pathological loathing of morning DJs), so I didn't even know about the protests until several coworkers were very late. I heard some people chatting about it and wondering if those who were late would be held accountable even though they had no control over the situation.

For a protest to be anything other than a stunt, it needs some press ahead of time. By press I don't necessarily mean newspapers or radio or television. Twitter is press. So is Facebook. All social media can be considered press because we use it to disseminate information and reach a wide range of individuals. Some of who might have wanted to help or take part in the protest.

All the press for this was after the fact and all of it was bad. I've read several articles - both in the traditional news and from bloggers - about the protest. None of it was particularly positive. While the news tended to stick to the facts of the matter, bloggers were less kind.

I cannot recall hearing a single person say, "Hey, that is a good thing they are doing, protesting for the rights of blacks to live." Most of the talk I heard was about how inconvenient having people block the largest highway in and out of the city was. Everything I heard was reactionary (some of it very dark and mentioning the relative size of a man versus a car).

Protests Should Make a Point

Of course, protests are meant to inconvenience people, which this certainly did. However, they should inconvenience particular people. There is nothing particular about stopping all the traffic going into a city. Protest efforts are for naught if they do not address the correct audience.

It's my understanding that the Black Lives Matter protests are primarily interested in the actions of police forces. Especially in regards to the amount of force used to apprehend and detain black people. This tells me that the real audience for this protest should have been the police.

Admittedly, the protesters got police attention (twenty-nine people were arrested on a number of charges). But they should have done it by chaining themselves to police call boxes or the front door of the Roxbury station. This would have certainly cheesed off the correct audience, but more importantly it would have been a hell of a lot safer.

All Lives Matter

Richard McGrath with 2 grandsons
Image from the Boston Globe
Our fair commonwealth's capital is home to some of the best medical facilities in the world. IN THE WORLD.

The ambulance that was stopped in traffic unable to get into those facilities was transporting a person who, if not treated in an extremely timely fashion, would die. According to the Boston Globe the ambulance carried Richard McGrath, an elderly man who had recently fractured his neck and spine as the result of an automobile accident, was diverted away from Boston Medical to Brockton Hospital because of the traffic.

The protesters are lucky. Richard McGrath is alive. Had he died of his injuries because the ambulance was unable to get into town due to their planned obstruction, they could have faced manslaughter charges.

They are lucky in another way. If the first commuters had not seen them, or had not been able to stop, some of the protesters could have been run down. They would have been crushed between their cement filled barrels and the front bumper of a Toyota Prius on a cold wintery morning.

And what about that Prius owner? How would she have fared? Would she have been injured in the accident? Died? If she survived, how would her life be impacted? Would she ever get over having involuntarily murdering someone? Even if it was his fault for standing in a damnable highway.

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1 comment:

  1. I get the idea behind the protests, but I agree it's ill conceived. It also does no good to the "movement" by hindering people's paths to work. It will only make the people more apathetic, or downright opposed to the cause as you frustrate their attempt at getting through life. And then, of course, there's the individuals like McGrath whose life was put on an even higher risk of death because of this incident.

    If you feel an injustice was done against someone or some collective and you wish to protest it, fine. But don't create more injustice because of it.