On March 20, Bradley Manning supporters descended on Quantico Marine Barracks where Bradley is being held and tortured. With the gate of the Marine base blocked off with fencing, those deciding to do the arrestable action had no choice but to block Rt 1!
After the usual rounds of speakers, protesters marched to the “protest pen” in front of Quantico, and got permission for a small delegation to lay flowers at the iconic Iwo Jima memorial at the base entrance.
As the delegation (which included Danial Ellsburg of Pentagon Papers fame) retreated from the memorial, they suddenly sat down and blocked Rt 1, and here hurredly reinforced by more and more people streaming from the protest pen to support them. What had been a small flower delivery had suddenly blown up into a full-fledged occupation of Route 1 in front of the main base of Quantico!Traffic backed up for miles, forcing mainstream radio news to cover it all day. An unrelated jam on I-95 further amplified this situation.
The Virginia State Police and an assortment of other cops responded with all all-out deployment of the riot squad, with shields and even M16 or CAR-15 assault rifles, plus a wheeled armored fighting vehicle of police ownership. This massive display of force did not stop protesters, who effectively counter-charged the advancing lines of riot cops. The police advance then slowed to a crawl, and when the police line reached the sit-in they stopped, finally advancing only as arrests of the dozens of people in the sit-in cleared space. The AP wire estimated 30 arrests, spread out over a very long time period. Route 1 was not reopened until about 6PM.
Interestingly, several MPD vehicles appeared in the parking lot of the Marine Corps Museum, an MPD Commander Crane was present at the scene. Since he has no jurisdiction there, he must have been present as an adviser of some sort.
Decades ago, in 1971, a student uprising at University of MD blocked Rt 1 in Maryland. The National Guard was called out on them, as it was in many protests of Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia.