On Thursday morning, the “Trucker Convoy Protest Washington Dc,” which had been protesting vaccine mandates and other right-wing grievances by driving around Washington D.C. for over three weeks, left its temporary base in Western Maryland to travel across America to fight proposed coronavirus vaccine and health bills in California.
The protest failed to achieve its stated objectives and recently experienced a decrease in participants, disagreements among supporters, opposition from local residents and activists, as well as road blockages by D.C. police.
“What do you all think about heading to California?” co-organizer Mike Landis asked the crowd at Hagerstown Speedway on Sunday.
“We’re not done here yet. But we’ll go there and raise awareness on this issue, hopefully, gain more supporters like we did here en route – then once we stop protesting we will come back and finish this job.” He did not elaborate further as to what that would entail.
On March 4th, about 100 vehicles with the People’s Convoy left from a racetrack 80 miles northwest of Washington DC where they have been stationed since arriving from Southern California. Researchers warned that some participants may choose to remain in the region while others will return home with misinformation in their pockets.
Landis expressed her hope that the convoy’s de facto leader, Brian Brase (of northwest Ohio), can inspire more people to join in the protest of certain bills proposed for California. She added that she hopes this inspires someone from outside Ohio to run for a school board seat.
Sara Aniano, a Monmouth University graduate student who studies far-right conspiracy theories, said of the anti-vaccine mandate movement: “That convoy is everywhere,” she noted in regard to those pushing this agenda. “Those people will run for office and vote and try to be in charge of running elections and ballot counting and poll watching.”
Inspired by Canadian demonstrators who occupied downtown Ottawa to protest public health measures including a rule barring unvaccinated Trucker Convoy Protest Washington Dc from crossing the border, People’s Convoy
adopted an alternative strategy: rather than taking over the city, they began hours-long demonstrations that involved sitting in traffic on the Capital Beltway and later driving in Washington D.C. On Feb. 23, 2016, this protest started in Adelanto, Calif. despite many pandemic-related restrictions having already been blocked or lifted at federal and local levels.
Landis reported the convoy was headed for Los Angeles on April 10 to attend an anti-vaccine protest organized by Defeat the Mandates — similar to their January rally on the steps of Lincoln Memorial which drew thousands from across America, including anti-vaccine crusaders Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Robert Malone.
Anti-vaccination activists have capitalized on the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic to spread their fringe movement into homes across America, discouraging families from receiving vaccines — some of the most effective medicines ever developed — during a crisis that has claimed over 978,000 lives here in America. Brase announced via Facebook Live talk that he will be speaking at an upcoming rally in Los Angeles.
The People’s Convoy brought together parents concerned about vaccine mandates for their children, healthcare workers who refused to get vaccinated, and members of the Three Percenters movement – part of QAnon conspiracy theories.
There was Christian nationalism evident in frequent prayers and invocations of biblical battles. Some have even called for citizen arrests of President Biden and Vice President Harris as part of an insurrectionist mob on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S Capitol.
Some of the group’s supporters and drivers expressed frustration online regarding their plans for California, saying they plan to remain at Hagerstown Speedway in hopes more convoys will arrive – despite assurances by organizers that the People’s Convoy will return.
It’s unclear how strong a presence those remaining will have or what they plan to do. Lisa Plessinger, the speedway’s general manager, said protesters must clear out their space by April 7 as there are races scheduled for April 9.
Brase, who left Hagerstown this week, encouraged other convoys to head for America’s capital.
“We’re all in this together,” President Donald Trump declared Tuesday on Facebook Live. “No matter which group you represent, the fight is still being fought in D.C., 100 percent.”
The lead group’s departure to California could provide a respite for residents in Washington state who have reported harassment and attacks by convoy members. Protests against vaccine mandates and other right-wing grievances have escalated recently into drivers honking their horns through city streets.
Brase’s supporters were galvanized by his assertion that pandemic-related mandates are an infringement on their liberties, and previously declared his group would remain until an end to the national emergency declaration issued in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Furthermore, they called for Congress to hold hearings investigating the government’s handling of the crisis.
Brase and others held a press conference with Republican lawmakers inside the U.S. Capitol and gave Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) a ride from his speedway into D.C. for their press conference; however, their goals weren’t achieved; even raising awareness about their protest can be counted as a success, according to the group.
Some supporters of the convoy have boasted about being part of an insurrectionist mob. Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin spoke at the speedway after his federal conviction for trespassing in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, according to a YouTube video dated March 26. Brase allegedly told those gathered around a campfire at that speedway that had he been there that day, he would’ve entered D.C. instead.
The move to California comes as the Unity Project — an anti-vaccine activism group that has supported the convoy — urges its supporters to fight the same proposed California mandate bills. Paul Alexander, the former official in President Donald Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services, serves as Chief Scientific Officer for this initiative; he often rallied convoy members at the speedway.
As the People’s Convoy traveled across America and rallied in Hagerstown, it claimed to have collected more than $1.7 million in donations.
That money was collected by The American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom, established last year and named its executive director a Texas woman who authorities allege violated her community supervision after pleading guilty to felony fraud and exploitation charges in 2020, The Washington Post has reported.
According to Christopher Marston, who serves as president, secretary, and treasurer for the foundation, 90 percent of contributions came from small donors – those who learned about the convoy either online, through news coverage, or from friends – with most financial gifts of no more than $1,000. Most financial contributions were under $1,000.
Marston estimated that while traveling across America, fuel costs ranged from $50,000 to $70,000 daily. In Washington D.C.’s region, daily costs were approximately $30,000, he added. Furthermore, other costs associated with hosting the convoy include lodging and renting the speedway as well as security measures.
On days the convoy traveled in Washington D.C., drivers were provided with fuel reimbursement instructions on its website. At the speedway, participants also received gift cards and letters from supporters as a gesture of goodwill.
Marston noted that drivers have recognized this protest as a “marathon, not a sprint,” with Trucker Convoy Protest Washington Dc rotating through the demonstration, leaving to work and earn money, then returning.
Marston could not estimate precisely how much money had been spent or remains for the westward trip, but he assured that “there’s definitely enough to convoy back.” After arriving in Hagerstown, donations and expenses began to slow down; however, Marston hopes that truckers setting out for California will draw even more attention and donations.
“The convoy needs to raise its profile and get back out there,” Marston said. “It’s difficult for the American public to get excited about driving around a Beltway.”
Q.2 Why is the trucker convoy heading to DC?
Q.3 How many trucks are expected in the convoy to DC?
Q.4 What route is the trucker convoy taking to DC?