On Wednesday, dozens of truckers set out from California on an 11-day trip across the country as they make their way to Washington, D.C. The “People’s Convoy” is protesting the Covid-19 vaccine and related mandates similar to that of the recent trucker protests in Canada.
The cavalcade raised donations totaling more than $460,000 in recent days. Organizers stated that the donations will help reimburse participating truckers’ gas expenses and other related costs on their cross-country journey.
The People’s Convoy departed from Adelanto, California around noon local time yesterday after a public send-off rally. The convoy is made up of more than two dozen 18-wheelers and around 50 pickup trucks and other recreational vehicles. Organizers say the route of the convoy could change during their trek across the nation. But for now, their plan is to stop in Kingman, Arizona before passing through New Mexico and Texas.
The group hopes to arrive in Oklahoma on Saturday. The convoy will then travel through Missouri, Indiana and Ohio before stopping in Hagerstown, Maryland. If everything goes according to plan, the convoy will eventually arrive in D.C. on March 5 following President Joe Biden‘s annual address to Congress.
The People’s Convoy is expecting around 25 other smaller groups to join in on the journey to D.C. along their travels. Officials in D.C. are worried that the protestors could disrupt traffic around the Capitol building ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address. Following Canada’s Freedom Convoy, many have shared concerns of similar protests disrupting the area. In fact, some are concerned that the protests could result in another scenario similar to the January 6 Capitol insurrection.
– What You Need To Know –
- Dozens of truckers began their 11-day trek from California to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.
- The People’s Convoy is protesting Covid-19 vaccines and related mandates.
- The group has called on the federal government to end the National Emergency, which President Biden extended on Friday.
- The convoy left Adelanto Stadium yesterday and plans on arriving at the D.C. Beltway on March 5.
- People’s Convoy organizers claim they have no intention of disrupting roads or bridges, like the Canadian Freedom Convoy protests.
- District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the U.S. Capitol Police have requested assistance from the National Guard.
- Officials in D.C. have also increased the police presence in preparation for the protests.
People’s Convoy ‘Is About Freedom and Unity’
Organizers of the People’s Convoy are calling on the Biden administration to end the National Emergency, which has been in place since the pandemic began. The group argues that the threats posed by Covid-19 have now mostly subsided. President Biden extended the emergency actions on Friday, which would have expired next week. At the time, Biden stated that “the Covid-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the nation.”
In response to continued mandates, the People’s Convoy took inspiration from Canada’s recent trucker protests. Canada’s Freedom Convoy demonstrated for weeks, including setting up blockades that shut down border crossings. People’s Convoy organizers stated that the American “government has forgotten its place” as they seek to have Covid-related mandates removed.
“This convoy is about freedom and unity,” organizers said in a statement. “The truckers are riding unified across party and state lines and with people of all colors and creeds — Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Mormons, Agnostics, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Republican, Democrats.”
“It is now time to reopen the country,” organizers added. The group claims they don’t intend to block off roads and bridges like with the Canada protests. However, the convoy’s statement also mentioned that “we’re not going anywhere” until demands over Covid-related mandates are met.
D.C. Officials Increase Security, Call In the National Guard
During recent trucker demonstrations in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau invoked rarely used emergency powers to bring protests to an end. Canadian police and protestors clashed in some cases among the peaceful protests with around 200 arrests made. Police eventually removed blockades and restored a sense of normalcy in Ottawa over the weekend.
As a response to the People’s Convoy heading to D.C., officials in our nation’s capital have begun to beef up security measures. Local government leaders and the Capitol police requested help from the National Guard. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin approved the deployment of 700 to 800 unarmed National Guard troops to the capital. The guardsmen will not be armed and will not be empowered to arrest protestors, but they will report any wrongdoing to local police.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby recently spoke about the National Guard’s deployment. He said D.C. officials requested help “to provide support at traffic control points in and around the District.” Kirby also said guardsmen will stand ready in case of “possible disruptions at key traffic arteries.” Additionally, he shared that around 50 “large tactical vehicles” will also be deployed throughout the city 24 hours a day while the convoy is in town.
Further, the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C. is increasing its presence next month. The department is adding 500 officers to its deployment each day in early March. Plus officials are reinstalling the fencing that surrounded the Capitol complex in 2021 next week as another precaution.
Many critics have accused President Biden, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, and the Pentagon of overreacting to the People’s Convoy. Yet officials have pushed back as they say their actions are simply precautionary measures ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address and the arrival of the convoy.