Whose Streets? Roadway Protests and Weaponised Automobility

Satya Savitzky, Julie Cidell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The article examines the role of automobility in US-based anti-racism demonstrations and counter-demonstrations. We contrast the spatial strategies of highway occupations by racial justice activists, with so-called “weaponised car” attacks by the American far right. Analysing online memes and anti-protest legislation, the article explores under-acknowledged links between “automobile supremacy”—the structure of motorists' privilege as embedded in law, the built environment and the popular imaginary—and the patterns of racial stratification often termed “white supremacy”. We document three ways in which automobility has been enlisted as means of violence against protestors and against wider Black communities in the US: through the use of vehicles, right-of-way conventions, and roadways as weapons. The article demonstrates how the imperative to make way for the motorist has long provided cover for racial injustice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1479-1495
Number of pages17
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2023


  • automobilities
  • protest
  • racial justice
  • violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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