Freeway Takeovers: The Reemergence of the Collective through Urban Disruption

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Freeway protests on Highway 5 near La Jolla, CA circa Dec 2014

[Editor’s Note: Last night citizens in Chicago shut down Lake Shore Drive in protest over the Staten Island grand jury’s refusal to indict the police officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner. Yet in SoCal, protesters have been using the freeways as a vehicle for protest and political awareness for decades. UCSD PhD candidates Troy Araiza Kokinis and Jael Vizcarra explain the goals, meaning and context of these protests and others like them.]

Driving along the Interstate 5 in Southern California makes commuters privy to the militarization of port cities like San Diego. It is not unusual to encounter a tank headed to Camp Pendleton or a truck filled with “1.4 Explosives.” These sightings normalize the spatial coexistence of daily life with technologies of destruction. These quotidian reminders along the freeway belie the laid back, “chill” ethos that San Diego relies on to attract visitors. San Diego’s freeways are redolent of war and an inflated defense budget.

The trail of freeway takeovers witnessed after the Ferguson verdict that acquitted Darren Wilson has once again revealed the extent to which urban geographies remain highly racialized spaces. The freeways, essential arteries to the flow of capital, goods, and labor in the city, have the dual function of compartmentalizing the various racialized populations who reside in spatially segregated communities. The freeway divides urban space along racial lines and the history of its construction exposes the conflict over who has a right to safety in the city. Communities of color have long experienced intrusions into their communities in the form of slabs of concrete. Prior to the gentrification trends affecting most major US cities, residents of cities like San Diego and Los Angeles organized to bring attention to local government’s intervention into their neighborhoods. Residents whose living quarters were threatened resorted to tactics such as freeway takeovers to maintain their communities intact.

One of the many examples can be found in the legacy of Chicano Park in San Diego’s Mexican-American working-class neighborhood of Barrio Logan. Barrio Logan has been segregated since the early 1900s, when white leaders in San Diego focused their attention to the downtown waterfront and displaced Black and Latino residents into Logan Heights and Southeast San Diego. The city then doubled down on their plans of spatial exclusion in the 1950s, when Barrio Logan residents were blockaded from accessing the beach due to the expansion of the National City Naval Base. Shortly after, the San Diego City Council decided to initiate construction of the San Diego Coronado Bridge and added ramps connecting to Interstate 5. The Naval Base expansion plans rezoned Barrio Logan and turned it into an urban laboratory envisioning a harmonious coexistence between industry and a working-class neighborhood. Moreover, the decision to court the navy was also due to the belief that it would attract a non-radical, middle class, and white population to the neighborhood. The decision to not consult the residents regarding the drastic changes in their community demonstrates a deeply rooted disregard for the dwellings of poor and working-class racialized groups in the US. The neighborhoods of Mexican-Americans were not deemed valuable and worthy of the amenities afforded to the white, affluent residents of Coronado.

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Protesting in Barrio Logan circa 1970s

This was not the first time that a city council opted to use neighborhoods of color as urban planning experiments. Barrio Logan’s disruption coincided with the emerging Chicano Movement of the 60s and Logan residents spoke against the industrial pollution and waste dumped into their backyards. Residents blocked the construction of the freeway ramps and temporarily brought construction of the Coronado Bridge to a halt. Today, the bridge hovers over the neighborhood and imposes itself over the skies of Harbor Drive. Unable to stop the construction, the residents turned the pillars of the Bridge into Chicano Park. The mural covered walls depict classic Chicano Power imagery evocative of other struggles of land and labor, such as those organized by Cesar Chavez in Delano. Arguably the most recognized mural is the shrill “Varrio Si. Yonkes No!” (Yes to the Barrio. No to the Junkyard!), a symbol of working-class resistance in a militarized zone. Chicano Park is a standing reminder of the history of land struggle in San Diego involving urban development and racialized working-class communities.

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ASCO in action circa 1970s

East Los Angeles serves as another important example of a racialized working-class community threatened by the construction of freeways. In the 1960s, the 60, 10, 101, 710, and 5 Freeways were all extended to cut through the East Los Angeles neighborhood. This environment spawned what Raul Homero Villa has coined as East LA’s “expressway generation”, from where some of East LA’s finest muralists emerged. Throughout the 1970s, ASCO, one of the area’s most important Chicano art collectives, used the walls of the freeways as a canvas to paint political slogans, like “Pinchi Placa Come Caca” (Fucking Pigs Eat Shit), “Gringo Laws = Dead Chicanos”, “Kill the Pigs”, and “Comida Para Todos” (Food For Everyone). ASCO turned these geographical sites of state power, the freeways, into forms of communication that expressed the relationship between spatial formation and racial tension.

Willie Herron, a member of ASCO, also played in one of East LA’s first punk bands, called Los Illegals. Herron specifically addressed the freeway’s divisive role in the lyrics to the song “We Don’t Need a Tan” (1981):

We’ve got our own sector where they keep us away.

Rip out our houses just to build a freeway.

The media burns us. They rip out our pride.

They stereotype us like in boulevard nights.

The intrusion of the forces of urban order into the racialized neighborhoods of Barrio Logan and East LA have taken the form of symbols of progress and modernity like expansive freeways and state of the art military facilities. The contradictions that are made visible by this type of urban development provide the historical context necessary to understand racialized and marginalized folks’ decision to agitate and disrupt the very development that threatens to inhibit the reproduction of their communities. For racialized communities already marginalized in the city as low-skilled workers and excess labor, these forms of development have only sought to discipline their communities through further fragmentation. In the case of Barrio Logan, the Coronado Bridge connecting the mainland to Coronado Island became a site of contestation when its residents disrupted the construction numerous times and turned the bridge into a space for collective enjoyment. The seizing of the bridge and the refurbishing of the concrete bespeak the desires of communities of color for a different experience in the city, an experience not subtended on their removal from the urban landscape.

The California freeway has long been a contested space historically and for this reason it is no wonder that protesters have sieged the highways and interstates during times of social upheaval. The Ferguson-related California freeway takeovers have had a series of recent predecessors that have relied on disruptions to infrastructure to make collective grievances visible. In 2006, 40,000 high school students across Los Angeles walked out in protest of immigration legislation, taking over the 110 and 101 Freeways in three different locations. These freeway takeovers are most likely some of the earliest in public historical memory.  In 2013, Angelinos witnessed protesters take over the 10 and 101 Freeways after George Zimmerman was found not-guilty of murdering an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin. The recent Ferguson verdict has sparked a total of six freeway takeovers by members of working class minority communities throughout California: four in San Diego, one in Los Angeles, and one in Oakland.

So what can we learn from the recent trend of freeway takeovers?

Urban spaces are racialized. In spite of the gentrification processes displacing the racialized poor and working classes, it has become very difficult to negate the continued disenfranchisement, incarceration, and killing of black and brown bodies. In fact, gentrification processes likely exacerbated the economic and social tensions that existed prior to the “urban renewal” trends present across the US. Although the post-racial understanding of urban space has erased the relevance of race in both the popular imaginary and its embodied presence, these moments of social crisis serve as the physical and material manifestations of the tensions that processes such as gentrification aim to ignore. The freeways constructed through urban spaces were originally meant to connect white suburban spaces to the financial and industrial enterprises located in the metropolis. However, as the gentrification processes increase, the freeway is used to connect young, white professionals living downtown or in recently renewed urban spaces, to their high-paying tech jobs or to weapons manufacturing sites located in isolated islands of wealth in the urban periphery, like San Diego’s La Jolla and Sorrento Valley or the Bay Area’s Silicon Valley (See http://camplajolla.org/).

Even though the city is imagined as post-racial, California’s freeways still play an essential role in dividing urban space along racial lines. In Los Angeles, the recently gentrified downtown area is divided from East Los Angeles by a river and five freeways. In San Diego, working class immigrant City Heights is divided fromgentrified queer and bohemian districts Hillcrest and North Park by the 805 Freeway; Barrio Logan is separated from the famous Gaslamp District in downtown by the 5 Freeway and Coronado Bridge. In the Bay Area, the black working class neighborhood of West Oakland is encircled by the 80, 880, and 580 Freeways, which separate it from the gentrifying East Oakland on the border of Berkeley. Although these freeways are finally beginning to fail as barriers to gentrification, they still serve as some of the last clearly understood markers of an “us and them” in post-racial urban space.

Freeways delimit the use of space and are infrastructural markers of inequality in the city. Since they also serve an important economic function, the targeting of these spaces reflects a class consciousness among the racialized urban poor and working classes. The tactic of freeway takeovers is channeled towards a source of corporate and state power – the arteries of the global commodity chain. The participants of the takeovers express a disregard towards the interests of commerce, capital, and the state. This disavowal of capital is synonymous with the interest of racialized communities in refusing to accept the “mutual interests” they are expected to share with commerce and the state. These takeovers are not just haphazard but strategic. They target those who benefit the most from the commerce-oriented infrastructure of the city – a mostly white professional class. Moreover, protesters recognize an outside enemy that is not within the racialized urban community and target an external entity. This externalization of the grievance, whether it be rooted in anti-immigrant sentiment or racist cops, counters the idea that racial tensions are just about sour grapes among racial groups. Targeting the freeway, a structure, is another way of pointing to the way white supremacy is also a structure and cannot be overcome individually through individual choice. All the freeway takeovers discussed have in common the following feature: they are popular acts that insist on reformulating a critique in a collective manner that seeks to bring attention to the historical and structural roots of the social ailments they address.

California protesters are not the first to target freeways as protest spaces. In fact, freeway takeovers are extremely common in Latin America. In September 2014, Yaqui Indians in Vicam, Sonora blocked Mexican Federal Highway 15 for multiple weeks in protest of toxins dumped in their water supply. Moreover, parents and students have used freeway takeovers to protest the murder of the 43 students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico by the state and paramilitary forces. The frequent use of this tactic throughout Latin America at least serves as an inspiration for this recent trend in California. The tactic is extremely familiar to the many migrants who come from rural regions of Mexico and Central America. After all, contemporary migration from Mexico and Central America is largely facilitated by the displacement rural peoples whose fates have been intertwined with the expansion of NAFTA and transportation of goods along highway systems. The use of this tactic by heterogeneous working class communities of color may even reflect a broader cultural contribution of the migrant population.

City Heights protest, 2014

Working class minority communities are not the only sites of freeway takeovers. On November 26, 2014 UC San Diego’s Black Student Union took over the 5 Freeway in La Jolla, California. However, being a poor, racialized, and criminalized person of color in Ferguson is not the same as being a student of color at UC San Diego. UCSD students, even if considered disruptive, have not been represented as rioters, looters, and thugs. The freeway takeover tactic sidesteps the need to rectify and assimilate some forms of protest over others – it makes disruption the main goal and avoids drawing a line between the “good” protestor and the “bad” one. Black and brown bodies are already perceived as threatening and criminal, but depending on their location in the city (are you in La Jolla? Barrio Logan?) those bodies are more prone to be harassed at the hands of police.

It is important that UCSD’s Black Student Union brought traffic to a halt in a space like La Jolla, where 83% of the population is white and houses cost slightly more than $2 million on average. La Jolla has been designed to repel and neutralize the types of challenges to the status quo that the Black Student Union made visible. The freeway takeover that occurred was a necessary response to the business-as-usual attitude pervading white, upper-class neighborhoods that do not bear the brunt of daily traffic stops, racial profiling, and arbitrary ID checks. Protesters brought to La Jolla a feeling of the same level of disruption that thousands of South County San Diego inhabitants feel everyday.

The freeway takeovers that have been happening over the span of a week display a collective desire and a renewed sense of urgency. There is no alternative to overthrowing white supremacy and civic disruption refuses to allow the perpetuation of anti-black racism. These actions center race as an inevitable and unavoidable truth in contemporary life in America, and as long as the lives of people of color continue to be vulnerable to state terror and violence, cities like La Jolla will continue to be vulnerable to unforeseen disruptions. The dysfunction and disorder caused by a freeway takeover re-channels the urgency of the freely flowing space into the need to radically alter the current social structure.

Jael Vizcarra is a Ph.D. student in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California San Diego. She researches the self-organization of immigrants and her current project is a comparative study of Mexican migrant women active in the informal economy of Los Angeles and Turkish migrant women active in the informal economy of Berlin. She is also interested in the cultural production of people of color and popular representations of race in music, film, and politics.

Troy Andreas Araiza Kokinis is PhD student in Latin American History and Teaching Assistant in Sixth College’s Culture, Art, and Technology Writing Program. His dissertation, titled “Anarchism and Armed Struggle in Midcentury Río de la Plata,” investigates the role of anarchist organizations during the Dirty Wars in Argentina and Uruguay. He specifically focuses on the relationship between anarchist groups and populist political movements, such as Peronismo and the Frente Amplio. Other interests include Fascism in Latin America, Spanish and Italian anarchism, Situationism, Chicano art history, Southern California micro­punk scenes, and Morrissey.

 

Comments

  1. It is important that UCSD’s Black Student Union brought traffic to a halt in a space like La Jolla, where 83% of the population is white and houses cost slightly more than $2 million on average.

    How many of the people that were disrupted were those that live in La Jolla? I’m willing to bet that it was a tiny fraction of the people trying to get on northbound on ramp at La Jolla Village Drive.

    All these protestors did was alienated the working/middle class people from South County and the UTC areas.

  2. john steppling says:

    Its an excellent piece, and I hope to quote from it. The above comment rather misses the point. If this *alienated* you, then you are not working class. I used to live in downtown LA, back before it was gentrified. I witnessed the process, including the spreading of rumors about changes in residency laws for industrial loft spaces. And, one other aspect of control was the film crews being granted permits to shoot at night, use of high wattage lighting, and loud noise, to keep people from getting home and from sleep, and all with police protection.

    • Right on the money. People that feel these protests are “alienating” might want to recheck where they stand on these issues. People that feel alienated are the ones that think police immunity from the law doesn’t effect them.

  3. Huh, guess they got considerate people on the roads out there, around where I live in England they’d either be run over or beaten till they moved by upset drivers.

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  12. Tie up traffic and people are pissed at you. If you want them to aid your cause do things productive and not counterproductive. We marched in the sixties for inclusion. We did not stop people from going to work or going home after a hard day of work. Think of the Boston March to the Tea Party. Did they stop traffic? Make a positive impact and get those around to support the idea.

    • Positive messages garner positive results. I just don’t see how stopping traffic is supposed to send a positive message or set the stage for growth.

      • The point is to disrupt business as usual so that the state will be forced to act where otherwise it will not. It’s nonviolent civil disobedience 101. Non-disruptive forms of protest are fine to raise awareness but the state is not going to pay attention unless you force their hand and that’s not going to be done by marching on the sidewalk everyday.. Sure there are plenty of other forms of disruptive protest besides blocking freeways but the fact is from the framework you have laid out already you wouldn’t accept those either because you seem to be against disruption period. Well I’m sorry but that’s not the way nonviolent civil disobedience works. The point is to be disobedient. If you support the cause then go out and march in solidarity. If you’re against a particular tactic then go the planning meetings and voice your opinion and attempt to learn from people who are specialize in organizing. But to be an armchair activist and to say you can’t support because you disagree with the entire premise of nonviolent civil disobedience well then how exactly would you attempt to force the state to act on an issue they are never going to act on otherwise?

      • I firmly agree. We marched in the sixties but not to tie up traffic. We marched for legislation to fix the problems. Looting was not the way to go and counterproductive.

      • so now you’re equating looting with tying up traffic? which do you oppose…looting or tying up traffic cause one is a nonviolent civil disobedience tactic and one is not…and what exactly do you think they are marching for? not to fix the problem? read a history of nonviolent civil disobedience….disruption gets the goods. they are not marching to tie up traffic. tying up traffic is the tactic. they are tying up traffic to get legislation and get results. there are very specific demands. they do have meetings to plan tactics. you people act like this all just happens willy nilly and no attention is paid to the process. old guard needs to move out of the way, stand in solidarity, and let the young people do their thing…marches on washington ain’t gonna work anymore and that message has already been delivered to Al Sharpton. it’s time for a diversity of tactics and that is exactly what you’re seeing.

      • You are young. I was there in the sixties and we avoid traffic. Also remember the march on Washington. A large number of people went and there was no looting and no traffic tie ups. What you have not are inconveniences to the public to get attention and to many it is backfiring. Joe the Plumber wants to go home and does not like being stuck in traffic. Do you really think that he will not get negative to the people that really want him to be supportive?

      • to think that anyone with the ideological leanings of Joe the Plumber is ever going to support this movement no matter what tactics are used is totally absurd and to think that this movement is daft enough to think it can ever recruit or even wants to recruit someone like Joe the plumber is also totally absurd and to think that economic disruption does not work to force governments to implement progressive reform is factually untrue and if you want me to cite a litany of examples I can do that. your personal frustration with and other’s personal frustration with having to spend more time in traffic getting home from work does not make an argument against the use of the tactic when history shows it has been effective in the past…

      • Actually on the news today the people involved in the situation have asked for this tactic to stop and more productive means to be used. You do not think much of Joe. I will ask when this tactic worked. I would like to review that. The most effective show of strength was the Washington March. Martin Luther King spoke. The crowd was not into stopping traffic but it occurred but not the main focal point.

      • katherinejlegry says:

        Hi, awax1217… do you believe in busting workers Unions? Teacher unions? Unions have historically stopped labor markets in order to effect change and benefit the people. Now with so many outsourced jobs, such as when Unions got “too” strong in Detroit’s auto industry… was that right in your opinion to do? To not just bust unions but shut down and cripple Detroit?

        Martin did plenty of marches that disrupted comfort zones before getting to that grand speech. The bullets in Martin and the bullets in Mike Brown are about keeping Joe the plumber on time, the way you tell it.

        Truly, No offense… I’m sure you don’t mean it like that.

      • perhaps it is time to move on to new tactics and that’s what you see with the die-ins in centers of economic activity such as malls and stores and bus and train stations but they will be just as disruptive but no one can argue that this tactic has been ineffective especially in terms of the mainstream media coverage its been getting. no I don’t think much of right-wing ideologues. If you could point me to a link of who you heard disparaging the tactic on the news I would love to hear it.

      • It was on the news on television. The parents of one of victims stated it. She wants this to move to laws and that is legislative. Petitions, backing the right candidates, and boycotts of companies that push the wrong agenda. Peaceful and effective. Committees of the communities involve need to get together and promote agendas that benefit the situation. The blocking of traffic is only a short term concept and will die out. But ad hoc committees generate change. On these committees there needs to a presence of community leaders, church officials and financial people. It works. I did it in Pompano Beach and doors opened.

      • You’re replying top a guy named “progressive watch” that has a “we are the pawns of the 1%” flag as his avatar. Do you honestly think he’s going to understand anything you just said, let alone offer realistic alternative solutions?

      • true…I hadn’t noticed before.

      • it is comments such as this that limit any form of meaningful discussion that might lead to a lasting conclusion to the nations ills.

        Yes I do keep an eye on progressive, and I do tell the world what it is that I think of them, and their plans. Yes I do have the Gadsden Flag as my profile picture, a flag which has a critical message to it. Leave me alone, and I will leave you alone. Don’t tread on me, and I will not strike.

        I could go on for hours in a meaningless back and forth debate with you, on your misguided understanding of the TEA Party. I could go on for hours about how in all of my travels I have come to the only possible conclusion that we in America are the 1%. However it would be lost due to preconceived notions, and obvious bitterness that resides within.

        My principles are what guide me, and I believe in individual liberty, and limited government. I believe in a nation of laws, where every man has the right to make his own way in the world. For that to exists it requires a government bound by law, and equal protection for all citizens before it.

        Every one is different, and despite of those differences we are all entitled to equal justice, equal protection under the law. That is true conservatism.

        A government out of control is a threat to everyone in this nation. So you truly display your ignorance if you believe that I do not care. You are even more so out of depth if you believe that I do not understand the concepts of civil disobedience.

      • At Reflective Thinking, I understand the concept of civil disobedience. I am looking at this from both a marketing perspective, and a logical perspective (logical in the sense that I am taking a look at the action devoid of its meaning, just as the act itself. It will make sense when I get to that point.)
        Marching down main street, where the people can see you, see who you are, see that you are their neighbors, makes a far bigger impact, than blocking a freeway. When you block the freeway, you are seen as crazy. When you block main street, take part in a sit in, you are making a statement that people can more relate to. I mean we have all done it, seen a guy walking down the freeway and thought “that guy is crazy”.
        Then there is the logical element. When I first saw about this protest, I didn’t think “they are outraged” or “they have a point”, I didn’t feel called to action. I thought, “They are lucky”. Lucky because semi trucks cannot stop on a dime. Lucky because people today spend too much time staring at some electronic gadget, and not enough watching the road. What would the message have been if a semi truck came up too fast, and failed to stop? Would that send a positive message to the world, or discredit an idea, and embroil the feud?
        Framing is key to everything. Winning over public support is mandatory. The state will not act just because you are disrupting commerce. Politicians could care less about commerce, how else do you explain the highest commercial tax rates in the world? Politicians care about votes, polls, and covering their own ass (please pardon the language). Public support is the only way to bring about meaningful change. A cultural shift in perception.
        The government has gotten too big, it is too powerful, a police state is the last thing anyone wants. That is something that I believe almost everyone can believe in. The only way to prevent the fires and chaos from spreading are addressing the problems at hand. We need limited government, massive individual liberty, and strong communities supporting one another. EQUAL protection under the law, a message that worked once, and will help stem the tied. That is something that Joe the Plumber would very much support.

        The TEA Party is not filled with a punch of racists red necks. I now my words will mean nothing to you, because of the bitterness in your heart. I was there at the 9/12 rally, I was there at 8/28, and I saw men, women, and children come together for liberty, and honor. Do with it what you will.

        God Bless.

      • I have no bitterness in my heart and it amazes me that you could presume such a thing over a computer screen. As far as painting all tea partiers with a broad brush I’m not going to do that, but there has been plenty of racist backlash against the protesters who have no clue about police brutality against Black people and the racist backlash stems not from criticism of the tactics they use but it has plenty to do with the reason they are protesting. As far as the tactic of blocking highways you may have a point. I will be taking part in my second protest on Saturday in NYC and there are going to be upwards of 30,000 people out there so I will have more perspective then. In general what I have found is that a lot of conservatives rail against big government when it comes to social spending and when it attempts to deal with structural economic problems but when it comes to government enabled institutions of oppression such as for instance, mass incarceration of Black people, the war on drugs which primarily affects Black people, the school to prison pipeline which primarily affects Black people, police brutality and patterns of policing within poor communities of color, then they mysteriously have nothing to say and the conservative lawmakers on these issues as well the Democratic ones are the ones who are complicit in building and profiting off of these institutions. The question is not small government or big government…those are vacuous and nebulous terms…the question is whether or not government works in the people’s interests or not and whether or not its going to take an active part in helping to correct the structural inequalities particularly structural racism that persists in our society but at this point in time all it does is facilitate the persistence of these structural inequalities. that is the much larger framework within this movement lives. in addition a movement always needs to strike a balance between tailoring its message for public support and making sure not to water it down to the point where it loses its original focus. this movement is very much a movement for racial justice because the fact is that the criminal justice system taken as a whole including police targets Black people and I am not sure if you are within this camp but it is not, it is not divisive to say that and build a movement around that simple fact. the ones fueling the divisiveness are the calling for the scrapping of that basic premise. The message #Blacklivesmatter does not mean white lives don’t matter. What it does mean is that our society and our government does not value Black life and non-Black life equally and that needs to change. there are plenty of white people taking part in these protests who fully understand that and if that is someone”s reason for not taking part well then the fact is this movement doesn’t need those people. You don’t need everyone under the sun for a successful movement and the fact is you’re never going to get everyone under the sun.

      • It will be interesting to see how your protest goes. There are a lot of progressives who call themselves “conservatives”. People who claim to support limited government, but only when it is in their best interest. These are the people who give TRUE conservatives, such as myself, a bad name.

        John Boehner, John McCain, Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, are classic examples of these “oh look at me I am a conservative”. Trying to use the government to facilitate change is a dangerous route to go down. It is that idea that in all honesty has lead us to where we are today. The government acts against the natural order, and bends things so out of proportion that it is impossible for systems to support themselves.
        the government tried to stem the lawlessness that it associated with alcohol consumption. We all know how well that worked.
        the government tried to stem the violence it associated with drugs. We are living in the crisis.
        The government tried to end what it thought to be racists lending practices in the banking system. We can thank community Reinvestment act, which led to the creation of sub prime loans, for the economic situation we are in.
        The government should not be taking an active role trying to “improve” our lives. It must be a passive participate. No meaningful change will come until we as a nation decide to change our culture, and return to strong community values that helped make us the greatest nation the world has ever known.

      • there is no such thing as a natural order and I’m not sure what you mean by that. there are human beings acting in the world, making conscious decisions, with implications for themselves and other people. to say something is natural without specifying what is natural and why its natural makes little practical sense. all you’re doing is spouting ideology. government is an institution made up of people who make conscious decisions. it has done bad for people. and it has done good for people. progressives believe that concentrated power is the problem whether it be in government or in other institutions because concentrated power is not responsive to the people. progressives also believe the government should not govern on behalf of the most wealthy in our society by that definition, Chris Christie is not a progressive, John Boehner is not a progressive, John McCain is not a progressive and Mitt Romney is not a progressive. Neither is Barrack Obama or Harry Reid and neither is Ted Cruz Corporate democrats and corporate Republicans. That’s what you have in Washington. saying government is inherently bad means nothing because it’s not a provable statement. it’s just ideology.. government is just another institution just like the media and the schools and the corporations. what’s bad is government policy and the way our government is structured so as to not be responsive to the people.

      • Forgive me for not clarifying. I did not want to turn it into a 50 page dictation. When I refereed to the natural order, I was referring to concepts such as the free market. The government tries to manipulate the markets, to satisfy special interests groups of some ideology.
        We must reform our culture, the government can’t do it.
        Progressives have been concentrating power in the central government for years. Woodrow Wilson, FDR, LBJ, are classic examples of progressives who consolidated power in the central government.
        Romney, McCain, Boehner, Christie, are progressives, in that they have fought to expand governments influence over our lives.
        Avoiding centralized power is the essence of TRUE Conservatism. Allowing Citizens the right to make their own way in the world.

        Government is not inherently bad, it is just not a tool to create social change. Lasting social change comes directly from the people themselves. You cannot legislate morals. You cannot legislate values. A critical flaw in most progressive theories.

      • The problem that most people fall into is that they assume that the political spectrum is divided into right and left. Fascists on the right, Communists on the left. That is the case in most countries in Europe, but really only tells half the story. Assuming that the issue is as simple as Fascists and Communists, means assuming that the only choice is how the government will restrict our actions to solve issues.
        These two groups fall under the progressive ideology. They both utilize massive governments to control their citizens. However there is a third option, the conservative option, the limited government option. The option where people are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights.

      • also the march is permitted but likely there will be groups breaking off afterwards who will engage in direct action nonviolent civil disobedience tactics

  13. 3 major Chinatowns and low income downtown neighbourhoods were retained with significant community protest for: Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary. Now population per city over 1 million.

  14. I meant preventing proposed expressway roads running into all 3 downtown core areas.

  15. Hey.. It’s good well written

  16. Enjoyed it

  17. Hello. I truly hope no reader takes this out of context.

    I couldn’t help but realize that when Black citizens tried to move into previously all-white communities white people would go bat-shit to keep Black people out. Fast forward to the gentrified present, it seems that people of color, (Blacks & Latinos), want to keep their communities intact by keeping gentrifying white kids off the block. The irony is when white people fled the scene, after they couldn’t keep Blacks out, they took tax-based money with them. That’s disinvestment. No money for schools and asphalt for the streets.

    Now when whites want to move back in with “their” money, it’s going to push poor people out of the communities by raising property values and rent. It’s a vicious catch-22. Poor communities of color need ‘investment’ but when the money comes in, poor people get pushed out. [I hope this made sense.]

    Thanks for the moderation.

    • Too bad people just don’t realize that regardless of your race, social status, financial status, stop acting like fools. Simply learn what civil obedience is for the sake of you and your neighbors. Civil obedience is a direct path to honoring God’s intention for how we should treat one another in a world that is many times unpredictable. It allows us, regardless of our differences, to respect and honor one another. It creates boundaries regarding our behavior. It teaches us when to and not to cross those boundaries. It is not for just the ones who think they are right. It has nothing to do with money. It allows you to realize that you are responsible for your success and not someone else. White and blacks alike have money just as much as white and black don’t have money. Stereo typing is a vicious catch-22. If poor communities need investment, then those who choose to remain in those communities after that investment should teach civil obedience to the ones who don’t get it and own up to the pride of keeping the community thriving. Become owners, become stewards.

  18. LotusFlowerBAUM says:

    Reblogged this on Expand Your KnoX/ledge.

  19. Hey visit my blog guys. http://www.arsenicaamir.wordpress.com

  20. Nice

  21. The piece is well -written. However, its being freshly pressed, along with all the other posts that have been featured on this topic, pretty clearly show WordPress’s take on the issue. No need to present both sides of a story apparently.

  22. Reblogged this on laru004's Blog.

  23. katherinejlegry says:

    Maybe related to the gentrification as well as to protest would be the Trail Blazers basketball players and Cleveland… Le Braun James… wearing “I can’t breathe” t-shirts. I was thinking the t-shirt campaign would have been more effective, had they come out onto the court in their shirts and then actually refused to play for the one game. Just walk out. Rather than taking the money. It would have been a bigger statement and risk.

    To temper pissed off fans and the owners, and sponsors they could request the money they would have made be put into the black communities effected. Build community centers for young people or something. These investments in their fans effected by the excessive force police shootings, at a time of tremendous grief and rage would be a truer show of solidarity.

    As it is, T-shirt campaigns on NFL and NBA teams or celebrity entertainers seems like just a good PR move. It’s better than nothing and the players deserve a voice, but it doesn’t seem like a real sacrifice.

  24. Anyone angry at the ambulances being prevented from taking critical patients to hospital are could vent their anger by blocking local supermarket car parks. Anyone angry about that could then go and block the airports. Whoever finds that annoying could block all the drains. And then maybe some people could block the train stations. If that kind of disruptive behaviour doesn’t immediately bring on a police state I don’t know what else would.

    Maybe these protestors should congregate in the shape of a violin and have someone with long pole symbolically play them.

    • katherinejlegry says:

      Hi Curiosetta,
      So…Naw… if protestors continue to grow in number and disrupt normal business life enough, blocking what “fans” and “consumers” want to entertain themselves with, especially during the holidays, as well as if enough celebrities (for example, like the NBA and NFL athletes) also get on board, it won’t be a police state. Police like football too.
      The police are even starting to drop the meme: we are defending the rights of protestors. (because after all it is an american the right to protest when there is an imbalance of power).
      There is an escalation of fear within the police so it’s understandable you fear their backlash and how that could limit you in your own daily life.
      The protestors are brave. They have conviction. They have truth. They are willing to try. This should make us proud not hateful.

  25. Loved this piece. The other day here in Minnesota Northbound of I-35 was closed due to protesters on the highway as well. The police didn’t arrest anybody or anything. Nor did they allow any traffic to go through. I knew some of the people there so while I was at work I saw their Instagram accounts, etc post at the moment photos and was glad to know that people are bringing as much attention to these police brutalities all over.

  26. Reblogged this on I Believe In Dogecoin.

  27. Now that’s deep!!!

  28. Reblogged this on tuneshunter.

  29. Reblogged this on The Life & Times of Ice.

  30. After the Rolling Stones free concert at Altamont (where somebody got stabbed to death on stage), so many people poured out onto the freeway that all the traffic had to stop. This was around midnight. To clear the freeway, drivers started motioning for people to get in. Drivers filled their cars and took riders onwards towards San Francisco. It was that concert’s singular Woodstock moment. Drivers lost their fear of hitchhikers and gave rides to whomever was close to their cars. As cars filled, lanes opened as the crowd reformed behind the filled cars. All this was done without any police intervention or control. People just cooperated in a way I have rarely witnessed on such a mass scale.

    • A correspondent points out that when the crowd poured out onto the freeway after the Rolling Stones concert, there was no intent to inconvenience anyone. Rather, it was the expression of a need…the need to get home. Drivers recognized the chance to be socially useful and helped out. The response one gets is tuned to the way the message is delivered. Fill the freeway with angry people and you’ll get angry responses. There will not be much achieved other than some media coverage (if the protesters time it right).

  31. Reblogged this on GLOBAL RADIO NETWORK.

  32. I found the ideas interesting, but it would have been easier to follow the thread if the writers had removed more of the jargon.

  33. Reblogged this on The Uninteresting Self… and commented:
    Great article on social disobedience.

  34. To pick up on an earlier point, blocking a roadway is not the same as looting or breaking windows. Looting and breaking windows is not justified and doesn’t make a political point. I think the point may have been made already and diminishing returns set in with blocking highways, but it does no permanent damage. I have a lot less sympathy with blocking transit lines–which prevents many working class people from getting to work on time. I was in this situation a couple of weeks ago and talked to a person who brought up how retail workers, for example, may get their pay docked for being late.

    Incidentally, it’s North Oakland that’s the gentrifying district adjacent to Berkeley. East Oakland has, so far, changed less than other parts of Oakland. But Oakland’s story is often more complex than simplistic political rhetoric. Interstate 880 was moved out of the heart of West Oakland and onto Port of Oakland land, where it affects far fewer residents, after the 1989 earthquake.

  35. Reblogged this on SparklePoint and commented:
    Good luck

  36. Orttimus Prime says:

    These people are inconsiderate hippy a**holes. Who are they to inconvenience every single person on the freeway, some of which will be late for dinner, lose their jobs for being late, etc. Just so they can be “heard”. Go to the White House you retards. People on the freeway can’t help you.

  37. Reblogged this on Freemansullivan.

  38. This is stupid people are doing that they shouldent have kids that going to work we can’t have people standing for the road with stupid sometimes just because of one little thing that is wrongWill have children to feed and they don’t have time for people on the road with stupid science

  39. Hi

  40. Reblogged this on sola rey.

  41. Reblogged this on Daken from Vault 101.

  42. Reblogged this on Two Cents From Texas.

  43. Reblogged this on The Daily Singer.

  44. Reblogged this on Unchain The Tree.

  45. Reblogged this on Nadira's Locs and commented:
    Now these are the protest we need to see more of, not a million chalk-outlined people in the streets–peace. It’s time to hit the bigwig, fatbelly slave drivers where it will hurt the most: their pockets. At this point majority of U.S. people have nothing left to lose: no homes, no vehicles, no real healthcare, no justice, no freedoms, no peace. Therefore, it is time to revolutionize. It is time to take down the oppressive economic power structures of the love forsaken land piece by piece.

    Nadira ❤

  46. Reblogged this on dunjav.

  47. Reblogged this on Environmental Nerd.

  48. Reblogged this on SherayxWeblog.

  49. if the cops feel they are really disrupting public affairs they will use “any force necessary” to clear the protesters…for there to be real change there will be a civil war

  50. Reblogged this on Jdawgswords's Blog and commented:
    if the cops feel they are really disrupting public affairs they will use “any force necessary” to clear the protesters…for there to be real change there will be a civil war

  51. Unchainthetree.com

  52. Thanks for sharing, but don’t do it this way, do it the lawful way, support the Constitution.
    http://www.nationallibertyalliance.org

  53. Crap that most hurt

  54. Please visit my post Love and Urban Disruption, sparked by your post. Thanx.

  55. should the protesters before the demonstration asking for permission first to low enforcement authorities and for protesters to remain onderly and does not interfere with the interests of the public and damage to public facilities. onderly and peaceful demonstration.

  56. Que transtorno

  57. peace… thats what we need… you can not upsetting people like this

Trackbacks

  1. […] Freeway Takeovers: The Reemergence of the Collective through Urban Disruption – Tropics of Meta: Last night citizens in Chicago shut down Lake Shore Drive in protest over the Staten Island grand jury”s refusal to indict the police officer responsible for the choking death of Eric Garner. Yet in SoCal, protesters have been using the freeways as a vehicle for protest and political awareness for decades. UCSD PhD candidates Troy Araiza Kokinis and Jael Vizcarra explain the goals, meaning and context of these protests and others like them. […]

  2. […] Freeway Takeovers: The Reemergence of the Collective through Urban Disruption […]

  3. […] via Freeway Takeovers: The Reemergence of the Collective through Urban Disruption — Tropics of Meta […]

  4. […] tactics that came out of Occupy than like occupations. They also call on a long, submerged history of roadway takeovers. Protests have swarmed bridges, highways, and city streets. Temporary die-ins […]

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