I cannot count the number of times I’ve seen it. There is a protest about something – an unjust legal decision, some Presidential fuckery, yet another police shooting – and people take the streets. For a short time – a fraction of a day, a fraction of a fraction of a year – pedestrians take the roadways and impede traffic. The aim is to disrupt, to call attention to the issue by causing some small, targeted disruption to the normal state of affairs. In almost all cases, the disruption will be short and will soon move to another street. A matter of minutes, perhaps.
But some people cannot wait minutes. Their time is so important, their needs so urgent, that they simply must get through. So they ram their fucking car through protesters.
I have been at protests where this has happened. It is scary. People bounce off cars. Not bounce house bounce: crunch splat bounce. They go flying like skittles. Human skittles, made of meat. Cars are made of metal. A car is a deadly weapon. It crushes bones and pulverizes flesh. Heather Heyer’s family knows this better than anyone. Yet people do it all the time. Someone did it tonight, objecting to a protest against the fatal shooting of a black trans woman by police by plowing their Mercedes through a gathered crowd of human beings.
In case this is unclear to these people:
Your meeting is not worth someone’s life. Your date is not worth someone’s life. Your time is not worth someone’s life.
There is no excuse for this. There is no world in which this is acceptable. There is no rationale which could justify endangering protesters’ lives so that you can get home from the bar quicker.
The weaponization of cars against protesters is a growing trend. It’s not random that this happens so often. It’s part of a psychology which categorizes protesters as expendable, outside the realm of normal consequences. The thinking (if there is thinking) seems to be this: protesters have breached the normal rules of the road by standing in the street, therefore I can suspend the normal rules of the road and ram them with my car. Add to that perverse logic the suspicion many American clearly have that protesters are not good, patriotic, honest citizens, but subversive and useless nobodies (how many times have I been yelled at at protests “Get a job! Go back home! If you hate it here move somewhere else!”) and you have a deadly recipe. Protesters in the street are fair game. Mow them down. Predictably, the police (who in my experience often see protesters as the enemy) frequently fail to intervene when cars are used with deadly intent – so many of these people-rammers get away, and there are hardly ever consequences. The system protects the system.
Stop it. Have some basic decency and respect for human life. Stop weaponizing your cars.