Reagan Airport Twitter Account Blasted for Tweet Declaring Pro-Hamas Road Blockers Are ‘Exercising 1A Rights’

2024-01-21 15:00:45

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.

We saw it, for instance, in Los Angeles and New York City a month ago when protesters deliberately staged human blockades near the LAX and JFK 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:

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:

“…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.

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.”

As did Fire.org’s Nico Perrino:

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:

Some questioned exactly what “first amendment” activity the Reagan Airport Twitter account suggested the protesters were engaging in:

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:

There we also calls for them to delete their account, which I think is a fair suggestion:

As to how Ronald Reagan himself might have reacted had he saw the tweet:

Pretty much.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —




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