Truck Convoys Head to Washington to Protest Pandemic Restrictions
WASHINGTON — Convoys of truckers began leaving from at least two points in the United States Wednesday headed toward Washington, D.C., to protest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
They are trying to turn their protest into a national movement that includes a slow drive around the Capital Beltway. The Beltway is a major highway system that surrounds the nation’s capital.
The truckers say they are not trying to stop traffic but to slow it down to draw attention to their complaints.
“The goal is to … [get] the American people to … question their politicians,” said Ron Coleman, a Reno, Nevada, trucker interviewed Wednesday on Fox News.
He is joining a large convoy starting out in Adelanto, California, that is scheduled to be joined by other truckers on a trek to Washington.
They are taking a cue from their Canadian counterparts who this month blockaded downtown Ottawa and a portion of the nation’s economy until the prime minister called in police to drive them away.
They share a common belief that vaccine and masking requirements infringe upon their personal liberties. They also claim political mishandling of the pandemic hurt the economy and drove up gasoline prices.
The national average of gasoline this week reached $3.53 a gallon, up 90 cents from a year ago.
A group calling itself the American Truckers Freedom Fund says on its website that it is protesting “the unscientific, unconstitutional overreach of the federal government.”
They promise a nonviolent protest that will not enter the area around the Capitol building or nearby government agencies.
The vaccine and mask mandates they are protesting began with former President Donald Trump’s March 2020 emergency order. Last week, President Joe Biden said he is likely to extend the emergency procedures beyond their scheduled March 1 expiration for some high-risk groups and situations, such as health care and public schools.
March 1 also is the date of Biden’s State of the Union address, where he is expected to announce any revisions to federal policy on the pandemic.
Local officials say they are taking precautions in case truckers change their minds about avoiding violent confrontation.
The city’s mayor asked for reinforcement from the National Guard to back up local police who are standing vigil near the Capitol. On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced it approved the mayor’s request.
Seven hundred unarmed National Guard troops are being sent to downtown Washington, mostly to help with traffic control during the expected demonstrations. They consist of 400 National Guardsmen from the District of Columbia and 300 from other states, the Defense Department said in a statement.
About 50 large military vehicles are being placed at traffic posts. City officials also parked snow plows near the Capitol in case they need to be called in to block trucks being used for the protest. Police put up temporary barricades around the Capitol building.
Part of city officials’ concern comes from unofficial statements by a few truckers who said they wanted to drive through Washington before shutting down the Beltway.
Some of the most inflammatory rhetoric comes from a group called The People’s Convoy.
The People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis said in a video testimonial on the group’s website that he welcomes all vehicles to the convoys converging on Washington to protest the national state of emergency.
“The message of The People’s Convoy is simple,” the group said in a statement. “The last 23 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a rough road for all Americans to travel: spiritually, emotionally, physically and — not least — financially. With the advent of the vaccine and workable therapeutic agents, along with the hard work of so many sectors that contributed to declining COVID-19 cases and severity of illness, it is now time to reopen the country.”
The first convoy that left from Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Wednesday consisted of about 20 trucks, including a big rig, a tow truck and a few pickups. It arrived in Washington late Wednesday afternoon and began what its organizers called a parade around the Beltway.
Bob Bolus, a trucker leading the convoy from Scranton, said he hoped the protest would drive home the importance of truckers to the U.S. economy.
“So don’t complain about trucks,” he said in an interview with Washington television station WJLA.
A much bigger convoy leaving Adelanto is scheduled to arrive in Washington on March 5.
The protest garnered the attention this week of U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He said he respected the truckers’ right to free speech but cautioned they should not create disruptions.
“When you talk about purposely damaging the American economy, that’s something different entirely,” he said.
COVID-19 hospitalizations hit a U.S. record high just over a month ago but are declining quickly. Deaths fell below 2,000 per day this week for the first time since last fall, according to The New York Times’ tracker.
Total U.S. fatalities from the disease are near 940,000.
Tom can be reached at [email protected]
In The News
In The News
WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial... Read More
WASHINGTON — Former Trump White House advisor Steve Bannon is asking a Washington, D.C., federal judge to delay his trial for contempt of Congress after recent hearings of the House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol created an "unprecedented level... Read More
NEW YORK — Though there has been some improvement in the metrics used to measure inflation, a slowing U.S. manufacturing... Read More
NEW YORK — Though there has been some improvement in the metrics used to measure inflation, a slowing U.S. manufacturing sector among other factors suggests the risk of a looming recession continues to be strong, according to an economist with ING’s economic and financial analysis arm.... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Treasury on Thursday blocked a Russian oligarch's access to more than $1 billion of his funds... Read More
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Treasury on Thursday blocked a Russian oligarch's access to more than $1 billion of his funds hidden in a Delaware-based trust as part of the Biden administration’s effort to enforce sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine. The oligarch, Suleiman Abusaidovich Kerimov, is... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will present the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will present the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles and the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Biden served in the U.S. Senate. Biden will also recognize Sandra Lindsay, the New... Read More
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers’ plans to cast votes on concealed carry gun legislation Thursday were delayed for hours... Read More
ALBANY, N.Y. — New York lawmakers’ plans to cast votes on concealed carry gun legislation Thursday were delayed for hours by surprise negotiations on the extension of mayoral control of public education and an amendment to the state constitution to protect abortion rights. When Democratic Gov.... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work... Read More
WASHINGTON — House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has long been an advocate for using technology to help Congress work better and with more transparency for its members’ constituents. In 2015, for instance, it was Hoyer, with help from his staff, who released the Dome Watch... Read More