Shut Down DC climate march causes rolling road closures

September 27, 2019

Protesters once again blocked intersections during Friday’s morning rush hour, seeking to call attention to climate change with protests in D.C.

While not as big as Monday’s protest, Shut Down D.C. halted traffic sporadically throughout the Downtown area.

Organizer Russell Gray told WTOP’s Nick Iannelli that the protesters are “here to stay and we’re going to keep coming back until the climate crisis is addressed.”

To commuters, he said, “Don’t be mad at us. Be mad at the fossil fuel corporations who are destroying the planet. We don’t want to be here any more than they want to be stuck in traffic but it’s a dire situation. We don’t have any other options.”

One of the protesters, Nanci Wilkinson, said she was “very concerned about the planet disappearing on us.”

She’s worried not only about her generation but the generations to come.

“We feel like this type of action is the only way we can pull enough people in to the climate movement to get action on the Hill and in the White House,” she said.

“It is time for there to be real pressure on decision-makers to take action,” organizer Liz Butler told WTOP. “The science is really clear: We have about 11 years to avert the worst effects of climate chaos.”

She warned that things will continue to get worse, that there will be more flooding, and that places like Puerto Rico and the rest of the Caribbean will be hit by more intense storms.

Protesters completely stopped traffic in the area around Pennsylvania Avenue and 12th Street Northwest Friday morning. (WTOP/Nick Ianneli )
WTOP’s Nick Iannelli captured the scene on 12th Street Northwest Friday morning. Protesters chanted “Shut it down,” as they marched down the streets. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli) (WTOP/Nick Ianneli )
Police outside Trump Hotel on Friday morning during the climate protests. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)
#ShutDownDC protesters march past the Trump International Hotel Friday morning. (Courtesy Twitter/@UR_Ninja)
#ShutDownDC protesters march past the Trump International Hotel Friday morning. (Courtesy Twitter/@UR_Ninja)
Protesters in D.C. walking for climate justice and bringing morning traffic to a halt Friday. (Courtesy Twitter/@XRebelDC)
Protesters want climate justice. (Courtesy Twitter/Unicorn Riot)
Extinction Rebellion tweets a video of their protests Sunday morning in D.C. (Courtesy Twitter/Unicorn Riot)

Around 8:30 a.m., they stopped at the Wells Fargo on 13th and I Street. There was some tension as a group of protesters rushed the door and police officers had to block the entrance.

Afterward, they blocked 13th and K Street before heading into Franklin Square and disbanding around 9:20 a.m.

Earlier, at 8 a.m., they stopped at the Trump International Hotel at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue. The march sparked an increased police presence there.

Drivers were hit with traffic headaches and rolling road closures.

AAA Mid-Atlantic disagrees with Shut Down DC’s tactic of shutting down streets and delaying drivers on their way to work.

“Studies show cars emit more than twice as much CO2 per mile at 5 miles per hour than they do at 35 miles per hour,” the organization said in an email. “So this form of protest actually increases greenhouse gas emissions, exactly what we are trying to prevent.”

Police outside Trump Hotel on Friday morning during the climate protests. (WTOP/Nick Iannelli)

Police staged early in anticipation of the protest.

Demonstrators marched from McPherson Square and stopped at several locations, including the investment management company BlackRock, about a block northeast of the White House; the Environmental Protection Agency building, on Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest; the Trump International Hotel, next door to the EPA; and Wells Fargo Bank.

The locations were picked “to highlight the corrupt connection between corporate polluters and the Trump Administration,” the group said in a statement.

Shut Down DC protesters blocked streets for hours on Monday morning; at least 32 people were arrested by the D.C. and Capitol Police.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2013 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He's the author of "A Walking Tour of the Georgetown Set" and "I Got a Song: A History of the Newport Folk Festival."

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