As many as 1,000 truckers are expected to gather in California on Wednesday to embark on an 11-day trek to Washington DC in an effort to protest what they claim are unconstitutional COVID-19 mandates.
The People’s Convoy – inspired by Canada’s Freedom Convoy which included weeks of demonstrations and blockades that shut down border crossings into the US – argues the ‘government has forgotten its place’ and seeks to advocate for all Americans.
It has called on the federal government to end the National Emergency enacted at the start of the pandemic, arguing that the threat posed by the virus has now receded. President Joe Biden extended the emergency – which was set to expire next week – last Friday. The president did so after arguing that ‘the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the nation’.
People’s Convoy organizers claim they do not intend to disrupt roads or bridges, like the Canadian protest did. However, some semi-truck drivers are already calling for widespread blockades, including Bob Bolus who on Monday vowed the Beltway and other roads in and out of DC will be shut down.
Biden, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Pentagon have been accused of overreacting to the convoy after it emerged 500 DC cops had been put on standby for violence, with 700 members of the National Guard also at the ready.
Bolus, who is leading a DC-bound convoy of about 25 semis from Pennsylvania, began his route Wednesday morning after suffering a more than two hour delay caused by a flat tire. He has not specified how they plan to block the Beltway but told WJLA: ‘We’re not going to cause a traffic problem any more than they live with every single day.’
Biden elected to extend the National Emergency despite calls from 70 House Republicans and Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Xavier Becerra urging him to end the declaration. The leaders cited access to vaccines, treatments and mental health impacts as reasons to let the order expire, as well as the fact that other nations have started transitioning out of pandemic restrictions.