Protest Briefly Closes Interstate On Ramp

Hartford Rally was part of national day of action

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Protesters At I-84 On Ramp
Photo:Chion Wolf/WNPR
Hartford Protest
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Hartford Protest

 

More than 100 people chanting and carrying signs marched through downtown Hartford yesterday, calling for jobs, public safety and infrastructure investment, and an end to corporate greed.  As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, the march was part of a national protest to declare an economic emergency.
 
The culmination of the rally was to be the occupation of a busy onramp to Interstate 84.  On the way there, people from labor groups, community organizations, and the Occupy Hartford movement talked about what brought them out.
 
Ralph Leonard came with his wife. 
 
"We're senior citizens, retired I don't need a job, but I'm really concerned about the future for my children and grandchildren where it seems like we've pretty much lost genuine democracy."
 
Rushion Edwards is an 18-year-old from Hartford. 
 
"I don't want to have to finish high school and not have a job.  Because my education -- I spent all these years in high school trying to get a good education to get a job.  And to know that I can't get a job when I finish high school is very depressing."
 
Tom Swan was one of the events organizers.  As others readied to occupy the interstate onramp, I asked him to explain the protest's strategy both of civil disobedience, and civil disruption. His quoted Martin Luther King's letter from a Birmingham jail about the value of non-violent action in the civil rights movement. 
 
"The need invest in jobs and to have the one percent of greedy corporations pay their fair share has reached that point."
 
The entire event was well choreographed between police and protesters. By the time those protesters made it to the on ramp just down the street from the Hartford Courant, the ramp was already closed by police.  And instead of the entire procession of people making their way to the ramp and to their eventual arrest, only twelve walked by police horses and took their seats.   Matt O'Connor is a labor organizer involved in the event.  Here's how he described it.
 
"Well we had discussios about how we thought this could go and be quick and less disruptive than it had to be and so far so good."
 
After about 20 minutes, the twelve protesters were arrested and taken away.  O'Connor says they were charged with disorderly conduct.
 
And shortly thereafter, the occupation of the onramp was over.
 
For WNPR, I'm Jeff Cohen.