America's Own Convoys Bear Down on Nation's Capital

Multiple convoys protesting COVID mandates and restrictions are converging on DC this weekend
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2022 8:15 AM CST
'Still-Fluid Situation' as Convoys Converge on DC
Trucks and vehicles, part of the Freedom Convoy, fly various flags and signs as they drive through Topeka, Kan., on Friday.   (Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP)

The Canadian trucker convoy may be over, but American versions are now in full swing, and they could snarl traffic this weekend in and around their ending point of the nation's capital. The convoys, anti-COVID mandate/restriction processions that are converging from various locales, are set to arrive in and near Washington, DC, sometime on Saturday for their final protests. Here, the latest developments on these Freedom Convoy offshoots, with Virginia State Police calling it a "still-fluid situation," per the Washington Post:

  • Coming from California: NBC News reports that the cross-country "People's Convoy" that originated in Southern California on Feb. 22 made its final pit stop on Friday in Hagerstown, Md., with organizers offering murky statements on whether they plan to enter DC proper. One said in a Friday YouTube livestream, "I can tell you now that there will be select trucks going to the White House." Another, however, tells the Post that the convoy—said to have a few dozen tractor-trailers and hundreds of RVs, pickups, and cars, with vehicles joining and leaving throughout the journey—plans on staying put in Hagerstown on Saturday and then targeting another site "only 2 miles from the Beltway."
  • Coming from the Midwest: CNN notes that at least two other convoys are on their way to the area as well, including one that's deemed itself the "American Freedom Convoy." That convoy is said to be slightly behind the California one and not expected to arrive in the DC region until Monday. Members of that convoy told the news outlet they aren't going in with the intent for violence, but that it's not off the table if troops are sent in "to prevent the protests."
  • How law enforcement is preparing: Virginia State Police have issued a travel advisory for the weekend, while Maryland State Police say in their own statement they'll have road patrol troopers and other backup "to assist public safety partners in Maryland and neighboring states to address any violations of law and to maintain the free flow of traffic," per WJLA. Dustin Sternbeck, a spokesman for DC's Metropolitan Police, tells the Post that officers will be stationed along highway entrances to the district and on some exit ramps, and that trucks from the Department of Public Works will be used to block or divert traffic, if needed. And if the convoys do try to get into the heart of DC? "It is fair to say we would explore all mitigation options," he notes.
  • Conspiracy theory: NBC notes that as COVID cases dwindle and restrictions are lifted, the convoys' "COVID mission has become less clear." In its place, conspiracy theories are proliferating, and one in particular is popular among convoy members: that Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin are working together to shell secret labs in Ukraine where Dr. Anthony Fauci is making bioweapons. "I don't think they know what they want," extremism researcher Sara Aniano says of the QAnon-driven theory. "They are just mad, and they want a reason to express that."
(More truckers stories.)

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