I didn’t have the Reagan Airport Twitter account weighing in on the Israel-Hamas war debate on my 2024 bingo card, yet here we are.
One tactic pro-Hamas protesters here in the United States have used to gain attention is by intentionally impeding travelers who are on their way to major airports.
On Saturday, however, the method was one we’ve seen them use before at places like La Guardia, JFK, and PDX airports on on New Year’s Day: using convoys to disrupt traffic, and in the process causing significant delays into Reagan International Airport in Virginia:
Happening now: A caravan of at least 6 vehicles are purposefully slowing both lanes of traffic headed north on the GW Parkway toward @Reagan_Airport. Palestinian flags are being flown from several vehicles. This has caused a significant traffic jam. pic.twitter.com/eMGe7xafrU
— Ben Dennis DC News Now (@broadcastben_) January 20, 2024
No business as usual while the US is backing a genocide. Today’s car caravan disrupted GW parkway and Reagan (🤢) airport near DC. Shut it down until 🇵🇸 is free. pic.twitter.com/mnD0Jz2tTq
— Michael Galant (@michael_galant) January 21, 2024
Because of the traffic snarls, the Reagan Airport Twitter account issued a traffic alert, advising people to instead use the Metro to get to the airport.
But it was the way they described the caravan of anti-Israel protesters that caught the attention of social media netizens:
🔺TRAFFIC ALERT: Expect delays around the airport due to a group in vehicles exercising first amendment rights in roadway. Use caution and expect slow moving vehicles. Recommend @Wmata to access airport.
— Reagan Airport (@Reagan_Airport) January 20, 2024
“…due to a group in vehicles exercising first amendment rights in roadway”? Is that really what they were doing?
Though we certainly do have a right to protest in America, there is no First Amendment right to block traffic, as noted by the ACLU of all places in a link that was also added as a Community Note to the Reagan Airport tweet:
Blocking traffic and entrances
Protesters do not have a First Amendment right to block pedestrian or vehicle traffic, or to prevent entry and exit from buildings. For example, a federal court recently held that the Chicago police did not violate the First Amendment by arresting protesters who were impeding a heavy flow of pedestrian traffic on sidewalks near Chicago’s Soldier Field, and who disobeyed a police order to step off the sidewalk and onto the immediately adjacent gravel. Likewise, a Chicago ordinance prohibits intentional obstruction of vehicle traffic.
— Kedron Bardwell (@KedronBardwell) January 20, 2024
— Arlington GOP (@goparlington) January 20, 2024
Hamilton Law Institute’s Ted Frank also weighed in with his legal opinion:
“You do not have a first amendment right to block the roadway. In fact, drivers inconvenienced by such illegal action have a civil cause of action for public nuisance against the people and organizations conspiring to block the roadway. If you were trapped in your car, you have a false imprisonment tort claim, too.
You may wish to consult an attorney.
My nonprofit public interest law firm, @hamlinclaw, has been speaking up about people’s rights and ability to use the civil justice system to stop this.”
You do not have a first amendment right to block the roadway. In fact, drivers inconvenienced by such illegal action have a civil cause of action for public nuisance against the people and organizations conspiring to block the roadway. If you were trapped in your car, you have a… https://t.co/H4Evf8F0WP pic.twitter.com/WDBqSZwDA5
— (((tedfrank))) (@tedfrank) January 20, 2024
As did Fire.org’s Nico Perrino:
You do not have a First Amendment right to block an active roadway.
Reagan Airport out here spreading the misinformation and making my job as a First Amendment guy harder. https://t.co/wbQmZiJmDv
— Nico Perrino (@NicoPerrino) January 20, 2024
Further, it was also pointed out that the Virginia Code expressly notes that traffic blockades are against the law except in emergency situations or due to a vehicle breaking down:
“exercising first amendment rights in roadway”
— 🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸 (@mrddmia) January 21, 2024
Some questioned exactly what “first amendment” activity the Reagan Airport Twitter account suggested the protesters were engaging in:
Are those vehicles all just parked and reading the Bill of Rights? What activity are you referring to? https://t.co/vreYfzxiJ6
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) January 20, 2024
Others quipped about how the account had handed them the perfect excuse to give to police officers who urge people who are waiting to pick someone up to move on:
Next time a cop tells me to move it along when I linger for 30 seconds looking for someone I’m picking up, I’ll just say I’m exercising my first amendment rights. https://t.co/HbSl2oHIE0
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) January 20, 2024
There we also calls for them to delete their account, which I think is a fair suggestion:
Delete your account
— Hube (@ColossusRhodey) January 20, 2024
As to how Ronald Reagan himself might have reacted had he saw the tweet:
— Allen J. Wilson 🇺🇸 🇮🇹 🇮🇪 (@AllenJWilson) January 20, 2024
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.