The DC area braces for convoy protests as nearly 1,000 vehicles headed into the nearby town
Long lines of 18-wheelers and other trucks filled the streets of Hagerstown, Maryland early Saturday as the Washington, DC area braced for COVID-19 mandate protests.
While other similar US trucker convoys fizzled out, this one picked up speed Friday night. About 1,000 vehicles, arriving from all directions, slammed into Hagerstown Speedway, congesting traffic, the Washington Post reported.
As of 8 p.m., a two-mile line of cars and trucks could be seen stuck in traffic on Route 40 trying to get to the location, WUSA-9 TV reported.
Some truckers participating in the “People’s Convoy” said they plan to drive to the DC Beltway area on Saturday, others said they were awaiting directions.
When asked about the group’s plans Friday night, People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis told the Washington Post, “We’re going to keep teasing DC… Just make them wonder a little.”
“Look, we’re truck drivers; we are very spontaneous.” he added.
Brian Brase, another organizer of the convoy, was more specific on Friday. Brase told the newspaper protesters would no longer target the Beltway area as previously planned – and could remain in Hagerstown until Saturday.
He said the convoy would likely assemble there Saturday night before likely heading to another location “just two miles from the Beltway” where some US senators and other officials would be there to meet with them.
However, the people’s convoy had not updated its website to reflect such a route change as of Saturday morning.
As a precaution, the National Guard has been called in to help control traffic in the DC area through at least Monday, WUSA-9 reported. The Metropolitan Police Department’s Civil Disturbance Unit was also activated by March 13.
The convoy rolls on even as communities across the country — including New York City — have dropped many of their COVID-19-related mandates in response to falling infection rates.
It follows the lead of Canada’s larger “Freedom Convoy,” which included protesters who spent three weeks demonstrating against COVID-19 mandates and blocking US border crossings into Ottawa. More than 100 people were arrested.
Meanwhile, several similar, smaller convoys are scheduled to take place in New Jersey this weekend, according to Patch.com
The organizers of the event have announced that it will be a non-partisan demonstration.