Dozens were arrested as climate activists fanned out across the District on Monday morning, blocking several major intersections to bring attention to climate change.
Bearing banners, chanting and even parking a boat in the middle of an intersection, demonstrators held the shutdown to coincide with a UN Climate Action summit in New York City.
"It's important to me. It's a really big issue," said one protester. "Personally, I feel like a lot of people in the government that are running this country really don't understand what's going on here."
By midday, the activists had cleared out of at least two intersections, moving their demonstrations to Farragut Square and sidewalks at Independence Avenue SW and 12th Street.
Photos: With Banners and a Boat, Climate Activists Block DC Streets
At least 20 different groups, including Black Lives Matter and 350.org, were involved in the effort to #ShutDownDC. The shutdown, they said, was necessary to draw attention to a climate emergency.
"We're making our point, which is that there's an urgent need for action on climate change," said another protester. "And if people want to be apathetic and drive around and act like this crisis is not happening, then we're going to call attention to it."
Drivers on 16th Street were forced to face the traffic and the protesters' message.
"It's a protest. It's OK," said one driver. "I'll wait."
But not everyone felt so patient.
"This is ridiculous," said another driver. "I'm all about demonstrations, but they shouldn't stop people from going to work." She said she thought police should move the demonstrators out of the way.
The following disruptions were reported during Monday morning's rush:
- Independence Avenue SW at 12th
- 4th Street and New York Avenue NW (northbound 3rd Street Tunnel traffic was diverted at Exit 9/D Street)
- 16th Street NW in all directions at K Street NW
- Westbound New York Avenue NE at Florida Avenue NE
- North Capitol Street NE at Massachusetts Avenue NE
Protesters chanted and carried signs, including banners saying "Climate Emergency: No More Business As Usual in MD, VA, DC" and "Climate Justice."
A yellow and pink boat blocked traffic at 16th and K streets NW, surrounded by at least a dozen protesters who had attached themselves to it. They refused to leave until police removed them, cutting each free.
"We want to disrupt routines so that people really, really think about what it is like to be going to work every day as we walk towards an apocalypse," one organizer, Sean Haskett, said ahead of the protest.
A spokesperson for #ShutDownDC said Monday morning that demonstrations were going well and interactions with police had been civil. They hoped the inconvenience drives home their climate emergency message, the spokesperson said.
The group was not ruling out a demonstration during the evening rush later Monday, the spokesperson said.
Ahead of the event, organizers had refused to specify the exact locations of the blockades.
"We will block key infrastructure to stop business-as-usual, bringing the whole city to a gridlocked standstill," the StrikeDC.org website said. The group was urging anyone concerned to join the demonstration.
D.C. Homeland Security had warned commuters via Twitter that First Amendment activities planned for Monday could cause traffic delays during the morning and afternoon commutes.
They advised commuters to use public transportation, sign up for Alert D.C. notifications and report suspicious activity.
The @MetrobusInfo Twitter account is providing information on bus detours.
D.C. police said they were aware of the assembly.
"Our Special Operations Division is equipped to handle First Amendment assemblies of any stature," police said in a statement.
D.C. police reported 26 arrests related to the demonstrations. U.S. Capitol Police arrested six.
The D.C. shutdown is one of 600 events going on across the U.S. and nearly 6,000 worldwide.
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