Back to bollards

PInk Mack

Yesterday, I was reminded that those pylon things are called bollards and their history of protecting from attacks goes way back.

It also reminds me of two depressing moments of realization during Obama’s presidency. One was when I too noticed the paper lid on Obama’s glass of water on The Daily Show. It was a moment of “oh, that’s right, lots of people want to kill him so there must be a whole protocol for that.”

The second time that feeling came up was when I happened to be in Portland when Obama made a visit to the city.

I remember the whole day felt weird because lots of downtown sidewalks were barricaded to the point that walking around the city wasn’t easy. I don’t know why they did it, but I guess crowd control is easier if people only have 1/4 of the space and are another 50 feet from a motorcade.

But the real moment of realization was later that night, when Obama was speaking at a downtown hotel (if I remember correctly he was endorsing our rad LGBT governor that’s running for re-election this Fall). As I was driving home, Google Maps sent me straight into the area where Obama was speaking, so I had to follow detours to go around several city blocks.

What hit me was seeing all the dump trucks. Every intersection of the 1-block radius around where Obama spoke had very large dump trucks filled with loads, parked nose-to-nose. I live in a semi-rural area and see farm equipment every day, so dump trucks aren’t unusual. What was unusual about these were they were from rock quarries and they were longer and larger than normal and looked to be carrying loads (not quite ginormous mine truck sized, but close).

Then it hit me: “oh right, the Secret Service must have a whole protocol for protecting points of entry and those trucks meet some criteria where they have to weigh at least 30 tons given the size and loads to protect against certain-sized bomb blasts and holy fuck oh my god.”

So yeah, bollards are just part of our modern landscape now.

Published by mathowie

I build internet stuff.

2 replies on “Back to bollards”

  1. what’s been interesting to watch with 45 is how many of these ‘protocols’ were essentially things presidents just did as a norm, and everyone expected it. I remember early in 2017 watching a vid of 45 walk AROUND the transparent barrier at a public event and his Secret Service crew was just like, “whoa shit what do we do now?” They clearly had no precedent for how to guide the most powerful man in the world out of a tiger trap he intentionally walked into. So many of the norms we have operated under assume the President won’t do things that directly endanger himself.

    (Of course I blogged about this:

    More salient example: using secure devices with flunkies listening in, 100% of the time.

    I bet 45 is like 50% less physically secure than any previous president, just bc he won’t bother with the protocols.


    1. Can you imagine having to take a bullet for someone that isn’t even bothering to follow the most basic rules?


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