On the Symbolism of Highway Protests

Freeways have a rare ability to symbolize both a mundane convenience and a bulwark of segregation. One columnist notes the powerful act of protesting racial injustice by closing freeways.
December 1, 2014, 1pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Quite apart from the original intent of a national highway system, which included economic development by quickly moving goods between distant cities, and national defense, urban highways were sold as a tool of segregation. They have proven to be wildly successful," writes Alex Inen, who provides lots of details about how the St. Louis region's history of freeway construction left communities like Ferguson and the city of St. Louis behind.

The article also concludes by noting the symbolism of recent protests that shut down highways across the country: "Shutting down Interstates is a powerful and meaningful symbolic protest. It disrupts the thing which has materially enabled self-segregation. We have sacrificed our communities to allow people to pass through, fast. The symbolism of forcing a pause is powerful." 

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Published on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 in nextSTL
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