On February 23, a group of truckers in the US began a cross-country drive from California to Washington to mark their protest against the restrictions imposed by the government amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The truckers took inspiration from the ongoing demonstrations in Canada’s capital Ottawa that led to the imposition of Emergency in the country.
Taking a cue from demonstrations that paralyzed Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, for weeks, U.S. truckers plan to embark on a 2,500-mile cross-country drive toward Washington, D.C., to protest COVID-19 restrictions https://t.co/Et58AP0XWh 1/5 pic.twitter.com/j645nl3YsC— Reuters (@Reuters) February 23, 2022
Reports suggest over two dozen 18-wheeler trucks along with recreational vehicles and pickup trucks began the journey from Adelanto, California that is located around 130 KM northeast of Los Angeles. Named as People’s Convoy, the trucks will reach Beltway, a major highway that encircles Washington DC in 11 days. The protesters are demanding an end to the mask and vaccine mandate.
DC trucker convoy update from Scranton, PA:— Julio-César Chávez (@JulioCesrChavez) February 23, 2022
There is currently only one truck in the convoy. Organizer Bob Bolus said they expected more people to join, and will call off the convoy if others don’t show up
Convoy was scheduled to leave an hour and 45 minutes ago pic.twitter.com/1IyQ3Nrv3O
The truckers are also demanding to put a halt on emergency powers the politicians in the US have been using to enact restrictions in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the Washington administration is making all the required arrangements to deal with the truckers and possible protests that may follow the convoy.
The Pentagon has approved 400 National Guard troops to help with the traffic posts from February 26 to March 7. The troops would not be carrying any weapons with them. The administration has also approved 50 tactical vehicles that would be placed at the traffic posts. Additional 300 National Guard troops have been kept on reserve from outside Washington. They would provide support at traffic posts if required.
About 50 large tactical vehicles were also approved to be placed at traffic posts. In addition, up to 300 National Guard troops from outside of Washington were approved to come to the city to assist at traffic posts if needed 4/5 pic.twitter.com/ihcnHtDLaV— Reuters (@Reuters) February 23, 2022
The convoy may reach the Washington area on March 5. However, they said in the statement that they do not have any plans to enter into the District of Columbia proper. One of the organizers, Brian Brase, was quoted by Reuters saying though their trucks may stop outside Washington, they would not move unless their demands were met. The organizers expect tens of thousands of Americans may join them in the protests.
The protests began at a time when a majority of the states had already started easing the restrictions.
On Wednesday itself, another smaller convoy comprising of one 18-wheeler and a handful of SUVs and pickup trucks started its journey from Scranton, Pennsylvania. Notably, it is the home town of President Biden. Another organizer Bob Bolus was quoted by Washington television station WJLA who said the convoy has no intentions to create any problem for any commuter. They would not break the law or block traffic. However, he warned if the demands are not met, they may have to take drastic steps. “They are not going to intimidate us, and they are not going to threaten us. We’re the power, not them,” he said.
Trucker update!— Julio-César Chávez (@JulioCesrChavez) February 23, 2022
Bob Bolus stopped for gas and breakfast outside of Harrisburg
I asked him what he thinks of the lack of truckers joining
“We’ve got a few cars…we’ve got people who see what we’re doing on social media and everyone else. It’s like having 10,000 people anyway” pic.twitter.com/mvH6y8dlET
The Canadian truckers’ protest
For weeks, truckers have chocked the capital city along with thousands of supporters demanding the Canadian government to revoke the mask and vaccine mandate along with other restrictions. The Canadian government, instead of opening a dialogue with the protesters, invoked Emergency to “deal with the protesters.” The government froze the accounts of those who were involved or supported the protests using the Emergency powers.