Madison Protestors Should Not Have Harmed Cancer Patients
I firmly believe in working for social justice and making sure people are aware of the policy choices in the United States.
For many long years–far before it was acceptable to the masses to do so– I was pressing for fairness and equality for gay couples regarding marriage. When our nation was in the long lead up to the invasion of Iraq I was most adamant that there was massive risk to our long-term foreign policy in the region with a cost to our country that would be staggering if we acted rashly.
So I understand marching, being loud, persistent, and at times angry. I understand the desire for change and how to use media and other tools to promote the message that needs to be heard by others.
The gay rights movement has provided a most positive lesson in how to foster change and arrive at a desired goal. Recall when making change was often done one person at a time when a partner was brought home to a holiday meal and how that started to change social dynamics. Being personal and creative has allowed for a sea-change in our culture as gay marriages are now accepted by a large majority in our country.
I have long known, as serious people do, that one makes sound choices when protesting in ways that are not counter-productive. There is no use in just totally making the general public sick of the protesters because then the message is never heard and a stigma is created going forward when that group speaks out again.
Yet creating stigma seemed to be the only goal of a group of people who shut down John Nolen Drive last week. I understand there is national and justifiable angst about events in Minnesota and Louisiana. But whether the local protestors who made many ordinary citizens very upset last week know it or not, the Madison Police Department is head and shoulders above the average force in this nation. But facts are not what drives this small and divisive group of people.
Instead of using logic and a long-term strategy for change they just act impulsively. As the Madison Police news release strongly infers there was no common sense used in the protest and a total disregard for the lives of others, including cancer patients. (I will add here that it was my knowledge about these cancer patients that leads me to write this post today.)
At 3:37 p.m. Thursday afternoon a group of 50-75 protesters moved into the office building located at 660 John Nolen Dr. occupying common areas and creating disturbances. This is a private building with several businesses inside. The management of the building asked the protesters to leave the building, which they did after a short time.
Members of the same protest group then moved onto the frontage road of John Nolen Dr. and entered the intersection of John Nolen Dr. and Rimrock Rd. blocking traffic. A subset of that group then sat down in the intersection and placed their arms into PVC pipe with chains and bolts inside in order to prevent officers from separating them. The entire protest group was immediately and repeatedly warned that they could not occupy the roadway or they would be arrested. Traffic volume at this time was extremely heavy as rush hour was occurring in Madison. Most of the protesters cooperated with these warnings, but a smaller group with the pipes and chains did remain in the center of the intersection of Rimrock Rd. from 4:30 p.m. until approximately 6:30 p.m.
While the majority of the group cooperated when asked to leave the roadway, the subset that chose to obstruct traffic created a significant traffic delay and also created a safety hazard for motorists and citizens. Examples of safety hazards created include several near crashes, delaying persons wishing to seek cancer treatment at a clinic off of John Nolen Dr., a citizen wishing to take insulin for their health condition who was staying at the Sheraton and several ambulances in emergency mode wishing to take persons to the hospitals downtown.
Officers faced 94 degree weather during the first hour of the protest. Water provided to officers to prevent them from overheating in their bullet-proof vests and more than 30 lbs of gear was also shared with protesters for their wellbeing at the officer’s request. Officers also faced rain and hail while protecting the protesters from vehicles. Normal response by the police department to storm damage and assist citizens was delayed due to the resources consumed by the protest.
Obviously the protestors had the day off from work and had no need to be anywhere else. So they felt the best thing to do was block a major traffic artery at rush hour. Simply the most bone-headed plan if one wanted to impart a message to the rest of the citizenry about some social ill.
I do not often assume that I speak for the average person in this city. But I firmly believe that I can state with much authority people who were on their way home after a shift at the hospital, or a long session with a dentist for a root canal, worked in a lab at the university, or cashed people out at the grocery store had anything but contempt for the rabble who blocked a traffic artery in the city. No one was sitting in their car and feeling empathy for the protestors. I suspect some were wishing for a few lobs of teargas so to open the thoroughfare.
The protestors have never seemed overly educated when making statements to the press–after all these are the same ones who wanted the United Nations to intervene in a incident in our city in 2015. But one need not be a college graduate to work for change. But it does seem like even the most base of protestors would understand one needs to do things that does not further separate the public from the message one hopes to impart.
That however is not the way the local protesting crowd thinks. They assume that any press is good press.
They are simply wrong.
And their message is simply being tuned out by an ever larger segment of the city.