July 4 traffic: Climate change protests disrupt I-495 traffic

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About 20 people blocked all lanes and both shoulders of the inner loop of Interstate 495 at the US 29/Colesville Road exit Monday afternoon.

Declare Emergency, a group seeking government action on climate change, took credit for the disruption. On its website, the group demanded that President Biden declare a national state of emergency.

“It was a collaborative effort that included a young woman who was eight months pregnant and worried about the world her baby was about to be born into,” Declare Emergency member Paul Severance said in a phone interview.

Severance said police made several arrests and he saw people who moved from the cars in front of him go limp as police took them away. He assumed that some would be charged with resisting arrest. Maryland State Police noted on Twitter that the road had reopened mid-afternoon, but did not provide further information.

Severance noted that their small group, mostly in Montgomery County, was part of larger actions on climate issues.

“We mobilized across the country. We had calls with Noam Chomsky and [comedian-activist] Adam McKay, and we also went door to door,” he said. “We are doing what we can to involve more people.

He added: “We are non-violent civilian resisters. We respect everyone – the drivers we block, the police, everyone.

The protest was not related to a truck convoy that was causing traffic delays on Interstate 95, police said.

On July 4, climate change protesters closed the ring road with major safeguards at the Colesville Road exit. (Video: Luz Lazo)

Photos showed several protesters sitting on the other side of the ring road, blocking traffic.

State police reopened the ring road just before 2 p.m., according to the Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

The Beltway climate change protesters were one of many groups exercising their right to assemble across the region on Independence Day.

A trucking convoy, the Restoration Movement of 1776 formerly known as the “People’s Convoy”, blocked traffic on I-95 to denounce the vaccination mandates. And abortion rights groups rallied outside the Supreme Court building throughout the day to oppose the court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Another group has planned a march to the National Mall later Monday evening.

Chantelle Piper, 32, came from New York three weeks ago to help organize Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights rallies in DC

She said she wished more people took to the streets with them, but was happy with Monday’s turnout.

“People answered the call,” she said. “People who have never protested before, people who felt really angry that they didn’t want to celebrate the 4th of July, not when that right was taken away from them.”

Teo Armus contributed to this report.

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