When protesters block traffic: D.C. police protocol

See
coverage and images of Monday’s street blocking protests in WTOP’s live blog.

WASHINGTON — Monday was the third straight day demonstrators inspired by the
protests in Ferguson, Missouri, have blocked traffic on the streets of the
Nation’s Capital — and they threaten to keep it up.

Street-blocking protests are nothing new to Washington, the tactic has been
part
of demonstrations stretching back generations. But it’s a ploy that snarls
traffic, slows commerce, and frustrates motorists.

“As a matter of policy we do not discuss our strategic and operational
planning,”
says Officer Araz Alali, a public information officer for the Metropolitan
Police
Department, declining to provide precise details about how police respond to
these
types of protests.

However, street-blocking demonstrators are not immediately removed from the
street, but are instead given a series of warnings.

“That’s part of our protocol, when they’re blocking passage, we want to give
them
the opportunity to disperse and leave,” Alali says.

Police say the Ferguson-inspired street-blockers are not being given any
special
treatment. The department’s Special Operations Division leads the response to
the
street protests, and Alali says the goal is to balance public safety with the
First Amendment rights of protesters.

“These demonstrations are handled the same as previous demonstrations,” Alali
said.

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