- Katherine Stair
People's Convoy Tries to Drive Home a Point
On Feb. 23, the “People’s Convoy” started the 11-day drive from California to Washington D.C. to protest the restrictions that are in place from the coronavirus pandemic.
The plan was to drive the Beltway, a major highway encircling the country’s capital, to demand an end to the COVID vaccine and mask requirements. This convoy comes after the demonstrations in Ottawa, Canada. Over two dozen 18-wheelers and about 50 pickup trucks and recreational vehicles started making their way towards the east coast to make their demands. It seems that the protesters in the U.S. are taking a cue from those in Canada. In response to the convoy’s movements, the Defense Department authorized activating up to 700 unarmed National Guard members to assist with traffic control.
An article from The Guardian published on Mar. 6 said that the vehicles are circling D.C. in preparations for “what their protesting drivers have pledged will be a week of traffic disruption around the U.S. capital aligned around a loose collection of demands, including the end to all coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions.” One of the organizers, Brain Brase, said that they do not want to shut down the capital and that they are not anti-vaxxers. Rather, they say that they want the freedom to choose whether they get the vaccine or not.
This rally around the capital comes even though the CDC said that masks are no longer necessary indoors at the end of February. Apparently, this is not enough for the protesters as the People's Convoy wants an immediate end to the state of emergency, seeing as they no longer believe that there is an emergency.
The organizers of the convoy have said that the restraint that has been shown has been strategic and that the protesters are in it for the long haul. The protests have started every morning since the convoy reached Hagerstown Speedway, the convoy’s base, with hundreds of vehicles heading out each day.
After leaving, they make their way down to Interstate 70 to make a few laps around the 64-mile Capital Beltway while maintaining the legal speed limit. While making their laps in the name of protest, people can be seen standing on the sides of the roads and on overpasses in support.
People have made this a family affair, bringing their children to cheer on the protesters or donate supplies to them on the way to D.C. from California. This convoy has grabbed the attention of many politicians, resulting in meetings between them and the protesters. There were audiences with various Republican politicians, including Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who seemed to agree with the members they spoke to. If the protesters can get more politicians on their side, we may see a more forceful attempt to have the mask and vaccine mandates lifted.