When we went to lunch on Tuesday, Broad Street was blocked off at the intersection of Broad and High, and we could see lots of police cars and emergency vehicles, lights flashing, gathered a block away at the intersection of Broad and Third. As we crossed the street, I asked the friendly policeman what was going on. He grinned, shrugged, and said that a protester had chained himself to the underside of a van.
“An anti-Trump protest?” I asked. “Nope,” the officer said. “The guy is protesting a pipeline.” And as we walked in front of the Statehouse, we saw some protesters out front, handing out leaflets that read “water is life” and complaining that Ohio had sent some state troopers to help North Dakota deal with protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which native Americans and other groups contend will harm tribal lands and threaten water supplies.
When we came back from lunch an hour later, the hubbub was finally dying down. The police had removed the protester and had the van on a flatbed truck, ready to be hauled away, as shown in the photo above. The protester was an Athens County man who is part of an environmental group called Appalachia Resist, and he was arrested and charged with inducing panic, disorderly conduct, hindering, and failing to comply.
It seemed weird to protest the Dakota Pipeline in Columbus, Ohio, to the point where you would chain yourself to the underside of a van and block traffic for hours at one of downtown’s busiest intersections. Even if you felt strongly about the wisdom of Ohio dispatching troopers to another state, staging a protest that just inconvenienced people and probably pissed them off doesn’t seem like an approach that is reasonably calculated to win people to your point of view.