Fourteen people were arrested after far-left climate protesters blocked several lanes of traffic on a Maryland highway, causing severe travel delays in the Washington, D.C., area on the Fourth of July.
Climate protesters dressed in yellow reflective safety vests sat down on the road and blocked all lanes of traffic on the inner loop of I-495 in Montgomery County, Maryland, near Exit 30 for Colesville Road/U.S. Route 29 in the afternoon Monday, WTTG reported.
Maryland State Police responded and made the arrests, a spokesperson said. The protesters were charged with disturbing the peace and hindering passage, as well as failure to obey a reasonable/lawful order.
Rockville Barrack troopers responded at approximately 12:30 p.m. after receiving a report of a group of people blocking all lanes of traffic on the inner loop of the beltway.
The protesters were asked to move to the shoulder, police said. Those who did not comply with the order to disperse were arrested.
Four of the 13 protesters were also charged with resisting arrest. At least one counter-protester was also charged with second-degree assault and resisting arrest.
Video of the protest taken by the D.C.-based online media outlet News2Share shows a driver confronting the protesters and pleading with them to open up at least one lane of traffic. The man said he was on parole and could be returned to prison if he was late for his job.
As police arrived, the man claiming to be a parolee became increasingly agitated and got physical with the protesters who were blocking traffic.
Police arrested him before proceeding to arrest the 13 climate protesters.
Police said that all lanes of traffic had been reopened by approximately 1:45 p.m.
A radical far-left group called "Declare Emergency" claimed responsibility for organizing the protest in a statement demanding that President Joe Biden "immediately declare a national state of climate emergency."
"Today there were almost two dozen Declare Emergency campaign supporters on the road, coming from as far away as Oregon, Washington and Florida to make their voices heard here in DC/MD/VA area. A total of thirteen ordinary citizens have been arrested today while acting in nonviolent civil resistance, raising the alarm on the climate crisis," the group said.
"Our action is an expression of our fear for our families, for the future of humanity and life on Earth. We are acting upon what thousands of scientists tell us, because our government is refusing to. Many other groups around the world are taking similar actions as a part of a global coalition called the A22 Network. Declare Emergency is currently centered around Washington DC and is inviting everyone from all disciplines, classes and beliefs, to join us on the road."