Activists disrupted some rush-hour traffic around the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday morning to demand congressional action on a host of liberal issues, including climate change, immigration, racial justice and D.C. statehood.
Protests started around 7 a.m. and included plans for a brass band at Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues NW, a go-go band on a flatbed truck at the Potomac Avenue Metro Station, another street blockade at Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW, and others focused on climate and racial justice, said Hope Neyer, an organizer with ShutDownDC and a junior at American University studying public health.
U.S. Capitol Police had said Sunday that drivers should anticipate sudden road closures and traffic delays. Just before 8 a.m., a band blocked part of Independence Avenue and Fourth Street SW, and protesters blocked part of Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues for a bit.
Protesters are demanding congressional action on many issues, including calling for the Senate to pass a roughly $2 trillion proposal known as the Build Back Better Act, which would provide new investments for many liberal priorities like climate change, universal prekindergarten, aid to low-income families and Medicare coverage expansion, financed through tax hikes on wealthy Americans.
“They’re on their way in the morning to business as usual. That can’t be allowed to continue when they continue to ignore the things that we need,” Neyer said. “We feel this is a very crucial time.”
Other protesters agree. Jennifer Flynn Walker, the senior director of mobilization and advocacy at the Center for Popular Democracy, a collective of liberal groups, said that just a few hours later, about 2,500 people from across the country are expected to join another protest in D.C., also calling for the passage of the Build Back Better Act.
This protest, which includes CASA and United We Dream, among others, will begin with a march at 11 a.m. from Union Station to the Taft Memorial, where there will be a rally.
“This bill is actually transformative. It is many of the things that some of us have been fighting for almost decades,” Flynn Walker said. “This is the agenda we have been hoping that Democrats would lead on, that President Biden would lead on. We know that time is running out.”