Climate activists block rush hour traffic on DC’s I-395

I395 protesters
Protesters sit on eastbound Interstate 395 on April 8, 2022.
I395 protesters
Traffic backs up on I-395.
I395 protesters
Drivers can be seen getting out of their cars on I-395.
I395 protesters
Traffic edged closer to the demonstrators.
I395 protesters
D.C. police turn around cars on I-395 about 12 minutes after the protest started.

Demonstrators briefly blocked eastbound Interstate 395 through D.C. on Friday morning, causing backups during morning rush hour and frustrating drivers.

About a dozen protesters with Declare Emergency — a group of environmental activists who advocate for radical action to halt climate change, fossil fuel use and oil pipeline projects — took to the freeway after the 7th Street overpass around 8:30 a.m. Friday.

A livestream showed climate activists using flags to halt drivers after marching down the eastbound 7th Street ramp. Cars managed to get close to the activists before D.C. police stepped in front of them, with one driver yelling to officers: “Can’t you arrest these guys? I gotta get to work.”

About 10 minutes later, vehicles were turned around and sent the wrong way up the freeway under police direction. Police started arresting demonstrators around 9 a.m. and traffic flowed again shortly after.

On its Facebook page and website, Declare Emergency says it plans a series of direct actions through April 14 in the D.C. region urging President Joe Biden to declare a state of climate emergency and leverage executive power “to save this country from collapse.” Joining them are activists with an indigenous-led movement opposing an extension of Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline in Minnesota.

Declare Emergency previously blocked I-395 on Monday, returning to the streets after a round of similar actions at the Third Street Tunnel in December, and near Dupont Circle in January. Five demonstrators, among them members of a group called Scientist Rebellion, were arrested after chaining themselves to the White House’s north fence on Wednesday.

WTOP’s Colleen Kelleher contributed to this report.