Hundreds of trucks, RVs, and cars came into Washington, DC on Sunday in protest of COVID-19 rules called the People’s Convoy, with the objective of closing down traffic around the capital.
After departing from California last week, the “People’s Convoy,” inspired by the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” that brought Ottawa to a halt last month, arrived in DC last week, swelling in size as more people joined along the route.
On Sunday, the prank did not bring traffic to a total halt, but it did slow it down in some areas. On Monday, convoy leaders said they aim to travel slowly around the Beltway, a 64-mile highway that rings the city.
Protesters gathered at the Hagerstown Speedway, a racetrack in Maryland about 80 miles northwest of Washington, on Friday and Saturday.
The caravan took two very slow laps around the highway on Sunday, covering a distance of about two miles. While heading off, they blared their horns as onlookers waved American flags.
On Sunday, Maryland state police issued a statement advising drivers to plan ahead in expectation of heavy traffic. On Friday night, a man claiming to be the demonstration’s leader promised to lead the convoy to the White House.
“DC, the government, anybody,” the man replied, “may claim that they have all this opposition waiting for us in DC.” “However, the flag on the back of my vehicle will be carried down Constitution Avenue, between the White House and the Washington Monument.”
Cities around the country have rescinded vaccine and mask regulations as infection rates and hospitalizations have dropped drastically. This week, New York City, for example, relaxed many of its COVID-19 vaccine and mask regulations.
Following the highly transmissible Omicron spike, President Biden said during his State of the Union speech last week that the US has reached “a new moment” in the pandemic.
On the condition of anonymity, a US official told Reuters that local, state, and federal agencies have been prepared for the truckers’ arrival for weeks.
According to a Reuters, assessment of a Department of Homeland Security warning sent to law enforcement on Feb. 26, trucker convoys could impede emergency responders depending on the scale of the demonstration.