Inspired by Canadian Truck Protests, ‘People’s Convoy’ Heads to Washington
A group of American truckers began a cross-country drive from California to Washington on Wednesday to protest coronavirus restrictions, taking inspiration from protests that have paralyzed Canada’s capital, Ottawa, for weeks. More than two dozen 18-wheeler trucks, along with about 50 pickup trucks and recreational vehicles, left Adelanto, Calif.,
about 80 miles (130 km) northeast of Los Angeles.
The so-called “people’s convoy” begins an 11-day trek to the Beltway, a major highway circling the US capital, to demand an end to Covid-19 vaccine and mask requirements. “It’s for our freedoms, our human rights. Enough is enough,” said Ron Coleman, 61, a trucker from Reno, Nevada, as he prepared to make the 2,500-mile trip ( 4,000 km.) Coleman, a 45-year-old trucker, said the group is also pushing for him to end the emergency powers that US politicians have used to enact pandemic-related restrictions.
Preparations are underway in Washington for the expected arrival of the convoy and other similar protests in the coming days. The Pentagon said it had approved 400 District of Columbia National Guard troops, who would not be carrying arms, to assist at traffic stations from Saturday through March 7. About 50 tactical vehicles have also been approved for placement at traffic posts. In addition, up to 300 National Guard soldiers from outside Washington will assist at traffic posts if needed.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “confident” in security plans to protect Washington at the time of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.
The people’s convoy is scheduled to arrive in the Washington area on March 5, but there are no plans to go to the District of Columbia proper, according to a statement. Brian Brase, a truck driver and one of the organizers, said no matter where the trucks stop, “we’re not going anywhere” until the band’s demands are met. Organizers portray the convoy as non-partisan, led by truckers and supported by a wide range of ethnic minorities and religious faiths.
Truckers are pushing their claims even as most US states have already eased many restrictions. In California, where the convoy begins, the state has lifted the universal mask
requirements last week while requiring masks for vaccinated people only in high-risk areas such as public transport, schools and healthcare facilities.
Another convoy, consisting of a single 18-wheeler and a handful of pickup trucks and SUVs, left Scranton, Pa. – Biden’s hometown – on Wednesday morning and headed for the Beltway in the afternoon . Organizer Bob Bolus told Washington TV station WJLA that his convoy has no intention of breaking any laws or blocking
traffic, but warned that it could happen if their demands about pandemic mandates and the cost of fuel are not heeded. “They are not going to intimidate us and they are not going to threaten us.
We are the power, not them,” said Bolus, a truck driver who owns a tow truck company. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked rarely used emergency powers to end protests, and Canadian police restored a sense of normalcy to Ottawa over the weekend. In the United States, new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have fallen by all – peaks reached a month ago, although nearly 2,000 people a day are still dying from the disease and the total number of deaths is approaching one million since the start of the pandemic.