The Tennessee Department of Transportation has launched an inquiry this morning to determine whether or not any recourse can be taken against protesters who twice blocked traffic on Interstate 24 last night, claiming that the action could and should have been carried-out by TDOT employees instead.
“Unexpectedly holding up the flow of interstate traffic for indeterminate amounts of time is, and always has been, part of our job” explained TDOT representative Jeffrey Redbone via phone interview. “These people protesting the Ferguson situation don’t know the first thing about how to really bring people’s driving to a complete and total standstill; these are amateurs intruding on a field where we are proud to be called professionals, and our people should have been given the job. Hell, we’d have even brought our own orange barrels and cones and some really big machines to do it right.”
The incident in question began Tuesday night as a candlelight vigil outside of the Metro Police Department on James Robertson Parkway. The peaceful protest was one of many held across the nation in response to Monday’s Grand Jury verdict in Ferguson, MO over the Michael Brown/Darren Wilson shooting case; reports from various sources estimate the size of Nashville’s vigil at around 450 individuals. The protest evolved into a march which blocked streets in downtown Nashville throughout the night and twice on Interstate 24 near LP Field. Metro Police officers supervised the vigil/march, ensuring and protecting the safety of the protestors in the roadways.
While not addressing the fact that last night’s act of civil disobedience and the resulting traffic inconveniences were an earnest and peaceful attempt to bring heightened local attention to an important issue of racial inequality in the American justice system, TDOT’s claim is that specifically the portion involving I-24, in which traffic was blocked for several minutes in both directions, is a violation of their workers’ rights.
“If they want to mess up the roads in-town, that’s Metro’s business” noted Redbone. “But when it comes to causing traffic jams on the interstate, then you’re taking away our employees’ jobs, and we won’t have it. TDOT’s legal and HR departments are currently looking into whether or not we can file suit, or an injunction, or something like that. You can’t just take food out of our people’s mouths and expect to get away with it. We are trained experts in the business of obstruction. If they wanted people to screw-up the roads for miles and miles, then we should have been there doing it just like we have been for generations. This is an insult, and TDOT will not take this lying down, so to speak.”
Protest photo found at http://www.wsmv.com/story/27483743/protestors-close-i-24-near-lp-field