- Scores of truckers began their 11-day trek from California to Washington DC on Wednesday in an effort to protest COVID-19 vaccine and mandates after the cavalcade raised more than $464,000 in donations
- The People’s Convoy has called on the federal government to end the National Emergency enacted at the start of the pandemic, which President Joe Biden extended on Friday despite calls from Congress to end it
- Organizers and participants argue the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions and mandates are unconstitutional and claim the ‘government has forgotten its place’
- The organizers also claim the convoy is ‘about freedom and unity,’ noting the truckers are ‘riding unified across party and state lines and with people of all colors and creeds’
- The cavalcade will set off from the Adelanto Stadium at midday PST Wednesday and will make several stops across the nation, before its anticipated arrival at the DC Beltway on March 5
- People’s Convoy organizers claim they do not intend to disrupt roads or bridges, like the Canadian Freedom Convoy protest did, however some truckers are swearing to disrupt traffic in the nation’s capital
- The District of Columbia government – including Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser – and the U.S. Capitol Police are requesting the National Guard assistance
- DC leaders have also increased police presence in the city and plan to reinstall the fencing that surrounded the Capitol complex for much of 2021
Scores of truckers began their 11-day trek from California to the Beltway, a major highway encircling Washington DC, on Wednesday in an effort to protest COVID-19 vaccine and mandates after the cavalcade raised more than $464,000 in donations.
The People’s Convoy – comprised of more than two dozen 18-wheeler trucks, along with about 50 pickups and recreational vehicles – has called on the federal government to end the National Emergency enacted at the start of the pandemic, arguing the threat posed by the coronavirus has now receded.
President Joe Biden extended the emergency – which was set to expire next week – last Friday. He did so after arguing that ‘the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the nation’.
Inspired by Canada’s Freedom Convoy – which included weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the US – the People’s Convoy argues the ‘government has forgotten its place’ and seeks to advocate for all Americans impacted by unconstitutional restrictions. Around 25 separate convoys are expected to join the group in DC.
‘This is for our freedoms, our human rights. Enough is enough,’ trucker Ron Coleman, 61, of Reno, Nevada, said as he prepared to make the 2,500-mile journey.
‘I think everybody’s here for different reasons, but it all boils down to the same thing: Freedom and liberty,’ echoed Shane Class, who had travelled from Idaho to join the rally. ‘It’s time for our government to start understanding that people want that freedom in the Constitution back.’
In response to the protest, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved a request from local DC government and the Capitol police to deploy 700 members of the National Guard to the capital city ahead of the convoy’s arrival. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said Guardsmen would not be armed, and will not be empowered to arrest people, but would be reporting wrongdoing to local police. Approximately 50 ‘large tactical vehicles’ will also be stationed in the city 24 hours a day.
Biden, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Pentagon have been accused of overreacting to the convoy after it emerged 500 DC cops had been put on standby for violence.
People’s Convoy organizers claim they do not intend to disrupt roads or bridges, like the Canadian protest did. However, some semi-truck drivers are already calling for widespread blockades, including Bob Bolus who on Monday vowed the Beltway and other roads in and out of DC will be shut down.
Bolus, who is leading a DC-bound convoy of about 25 semis from Pennsylvania, began his route Wednesday morning after suffering a more than two hour delay caused by a flat tire. He has not specified how they plan to block the Beltway but told WJLA: ‘We’re not going to cause a traffic problem any more than they live with every single day.’
Biden elected to extend the National Emergency despite calls from 70 House Republicans and Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra urging him to end the declaration. The leaders cited access to vaccines, treatments and mental health impacts as reasons to let the order expire, as well as the fact that other nations have started transitioning out of pandemic restrictions.
‘[The] fact is we have a government that tries to push us around,’ trucker Mike Landis told the Los Angeles Times Tuesday when asked about the People’s Convoy. ‘At this moment, we are living without our Constitution. Our Constitution means nothing right now.’
The movement has attracted more than $464,000 in donations, according to the website, which organizers say will be used to reimburse fuel and other costs borne by participating truckers.
PUBLISHED: 21:11 EST, 22 February 2022 | UPDATED: 17:07 EST, 23 February 2022