Election Week 2020 Street Scenes #4: Honk for ‘Black Lives Matter’


At this same intersection at the corner that would be visible if you peeked behind the poll from the previous post (“No Photo ID Required to Vote”), there are often two wheelchair-bound men, one Black and one White, silently glaring at passersby. They have been staging daily hour long “Honk for Black Lives Matter” protests since the riots in June.

Usually they have one to three hangers-on with them. Here they are on October 30:

This protest elicits lots of disorganized honks and therefore causes considerable noise, making it seem like perpetual, angry traffic jam is in place.

Why are people honking this much? I know Arlington and I know the answer: It’s a signal of how much Arlington types want to signal their support for the trendy movement (support rates shot way up during the riots and the aftermath), and therefore signaling their social status, their social prestige, that they are one of the good people. Though yard signs are plenty sign enough of that. Yard sign ratio is such a very much low-hanging-fruit observation that I decide to spend a few hours quantifying it with personal data collection which I published yesterday.

But there are plenty of people not on board with the Black Lives Matter agenda. It is also not hard to see this for what it is, a political campaign in no small part directed against Trump and as a rallying call for anti-Trump forces and to some extent a grab-bag of left-wing ideas. I’d go so far as to say Black Lives Matter isn’t even primarily about Black people, at least not in this manifestation, the dynamic of the two wheelchair-bound guys and the mainly White honkers and sundry passersby.

Some passersby distinctly express their disapproval. One of the times I passed by, I witnessed a pair on bicycles shout “Trump 2020!” several times at the protestors, which about sums it up. Supposedly there was, for some days, a solitary counter-protestor who silently carried a US flag and stared at the Honk for Black Lives Matter grouplet, which again sums up the point of what the dividing line is, I think.

But there is also a non-political argument against this kind of protest in this kind of area, a largely residential area. It causes a constant assault on the auditory senses.

I did a few census addresses in the area. There was one resident in the area complained bitterly of the constant noise, saying he couldn’t sleep, saying he didn’t understand why they were doing that. I could barely conduct the interview for all the steady honking. He was a Spanish speaker. Anyone living, working, or just passing through the area is subject to this noise for an hour a day.

Will it end if Biden is elected? Will it continue if Trump is re-elected?

The newspaper profiled the pair, and the man was a professor of history at Howard University and adopted the other man, paralyzed from birth, from Lesotho.

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