By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – The protesters who blocked I-93 in Medford and Milton had a mission. But did their tactics help or hurt their cause?

WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller got mixed responses from politicians who have been active on the issues raised by the protesters. Some of them winced at the news of that ambulance being diverted, even as they argued the demonstrations are necessary. But others said Thursday’s tactics were a mistake, and an untimely one at that.

Video: Protesters Removed From I-93

This latest event comes just as months of demonstrations are starting to yield legislative fruit on Beacon Hill, a bill requiring more data on police stops, and another that assigns independent investigators to probe police-related deaths.

And inside the State House, that was a focal point for some of the protests, major credit is being given to the protesters.

Photo Gallery: Protesters Block I-93

“It definitely played a role,” Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Boston) said. “We’re planning on having a meeting with the governor soon and this will be the first thing we’ll talk about as a caucus.”

Protesters attached to a barrel on I-93 (Photo credit Mass. State Police)

Protesters attached to a barrel on I-93 (Photo credit Mass. State Police)

“I think they’ve been really instrumental, and I really want to give credit to a new generation of activists that are coming up in the wake of these tragedies,” said Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston).

But judging from social media, Thursday’s traffic stoppage has generated far more backlash than any previous demonstration.

Did they do more harm than good to this political movement?

Officers drag protesters from I-93. (WBZ-TV)

Officers drag protesters from I-93. (WBZ-TV)

Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson, who joined in some of the local protest marches, says no.

“Yes there was discomfort, yes people were late today, but there were people who were missing from their Christmas dinners, there were people who were missing from their Thanksgiving dinners,” Jackson says.

But Rep. Holmes fears today’s traffic jams may prove counterproductive.

“When I saw Selma it was clear that the role of cameras and the role of the media was important to Dr. King, but he also had a plan in the end he wanted to have that then lead to some pieces of legislation,” Rep. Holmes said.

And the concern of some of these advocates is that public anger over the traffic mess will complicate their efforts to get those bills passed.

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Jon Keller

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