Truckers Head for DC

Unarmed National Guard troops are authorized to help when protesters arrive
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2022 4:21 PM CST
DC Prepares for Trucker Convoys
Bob Bolus talks on his phone outside his towing business in Throop, Pa., before leaving in a convoy for a Washington protest.   (Christopher Dolan/The Times-Tribune via AP)

Truckers are hitting the road for Washington to stage protests similar to the ones that shut down parts of Canada's capital. Members of the convoys, largely opposing pandemic restrictions, were leaving from various places and planned varied arrivals in DC, the Guardian reports. One group, which planned to leave California on Wednesday, said it wants to reopen the country and boost the economy. Labeling itself the "People's Convoy," the group said in a statement it plans to arrive March 5 but will stay outside the District. Truckers in other convoys plan to arrive by Tuesday, in time for President Biden's State of the Union address.

The Pentagon approved the use of 700 National Guard troops in the city during the protests, per the BBC. They'll be unarmed, with duties including staffing traffic posts, through March 7, a statement said. In addition, 50 "large tactical vehicles" will be deployed. An organizer of a group of about 20 trucks that left Scranton, Pa., on Wednesday said they want to clog the Beltway in the DC area. Bob Bolus, who owns a tow truck company, told WRC the trucks will move with traffic, though he'd earlier said they'd block traffic on Interstate 495. Bolus listed the group's complaints as fuel prices, mask mandates, and coronavirus vaccinations.

"We're not shutting the traffic down today," Bolus said. "If we don't have a resolution from the government, to the rights that they're taking from us, I will predict in the future it will get shut down." He said he expects thousands of protesters to gather in DC. Some of the organizers have described the protests as nonpartisan, but the California convoy that left Adelanto, on Wednesday is backed by groups tied to the far right and the attack on the US Capitol, per the New York Times. "We're just trying to show what the people who back us believe—and our own beliefs—of what our country needs to go back to," said a Republican trucker from Texas. (More truckers stories.)

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