Hundreds of trucks, RVs and cars descended on Washington DC Sunday, with the goal of shutting down traffic around the capital in protest of COVID-19 mandates.
The “People’s Convoy,” inspired by the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” that brought Ottawa to a standstill last month, finally reached DC after departing from California last week, growing in size as others joined on the way.
The stunt on Sunday failed to bring traffic to a complete standstill, but did slow it down at certain points.
Convoy leaders said they plan to again drive slowly around Beltway – a 64-mile highway that encircles the city — on Monday.
The protesters gathered on Friday and Saturday at the Hagerstown Speedway, a racetrack in Maryland about 80 miles northwest of downtown Washington.
On Sunday, the caravan – which stretches some 2 miles – took two deliberately slow laps around the highway. They blared their horns while setting off, as onlookers waved American flags.
Maryland state police released a statement on Sunday warning for drivers to plan ahead in anticipation of high volumes of traffic.
On Friday night, a man who described himself as the leader of the demonstration pledged to take the convoy to the White House.
“DC, the government, whomever, can claim that they have all this opposition for us waiting in DC,” the man said. “But that flag on the back of my truck will go down to Constitution Avenue between the White House and the Washington Monument.”
The protest has lost much of its fervor with cities across the country rescinding vaccine and mask mandates as infection rates and hospitalizations dramatically decline. New York City, for instance, pulled back many of its COVID-19 vaccine and mask rules this week.
President Biden announced during the State of the Union address last week that the US had reached “a new moment” in the pandemic after the highly transmissible Omicron surge.
Local, state and federal officials have been planning for the truckers’ arrival for weeks, a US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
A Feb. 26 Department of Homeland Security bulletin to law enforcement reviewed by Reuters said trucker convoys could hinder emergency responders depending on the size of the protest.
With Post wires