Trucker convoys are headed to Washington, D.C., for protests this week and next. According to one organizer, the plans could include a blockade intended to strangle access to the nation’s capital like a “boa constrictor.”
This unsettling suggestion came from Bob Bolus, a Pennsylvania-based organizer for Truckers for Freedom who said demonstrators would blockade the Beltway around the nation’s capital, a circumferential 64 miles of road touching the District of Columbia and surrounding states like Maryland and Virginia.
The Washington metropolitan area alone—which encompasses the District of Columbia, central Maryland, and northern Virginia—is home to over three million people. Given the area’s history of notoriously heavy congestion, demonstrations of any considerable size are likely to cause lengthy disruptions.
“We intend to circle Washington, D.C and basically I’ll give you an analogy of that of a giant boa constrictor that basically squeezes you, chokes you, and then swallows you,” Bolus told a Fox News affiliate in Washington on Sunday.
He said the convoys would control the flow of traffic as well.
“They’ll be a lane open for emergency vehicles to get in and get out. We will not compromise anybody’s safety or health one way or the other,” he said Sunday.
Bolus was unmoved when asked how he thought the blockade might impact ordinary people trying to work or go about their business.
“If they can’t get to work, jeez that's too bad,” Bolus said.
Notably, the People’s Convoy premises its movement on “the average American worker” needing “to be able to end-run the economic hardships” of the last few years.
How long the trucker convoys plan to be in place is unclear.
The American convoys are a mashup of different groups with common goals and common beliefs, with most of them leaning ultra-conservative. The Great American Patriot Project, for instance, is just one of the U.S. groups participating in the looming convoy.
All of the groups sprang up and linked up quickly in the wake of trucker protests in Canada which, were laden with conspiracy theories, xenophobia, and anti-vaccine rhetoric.
Like other groups, the Great American Patriot Project has called on truckers to join up with convoys headed to the nation’s capital from February 22 to March 6.
The Great American Patriot Project specifically wants to launch convoys from March 1 to March 6. National organizers from another group known as the “People’s Convoy” said this Sunday that their “unified transcontinental movement” will kick off in southern California this Wednesday.
According to route details published on its website, the Great American Patriot Project has scheduled a “Washington State to Washington D.C.” route that features over 15 cities where truckers can meet to build numbers.
Demonstrators making up the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada were in place for weeks and caused major disruptions when blocking bridges and border crossings. Police finally cleared the high-traffic Ambassador Bridge linking Detroit, Michigan, and Windsor, Ontario, last week, but not without clashes beforehand and significant trade disruptions.
The looming convoys in America have prompted fencing to be reinstalled around the U.S. Capitol. Last erected there in the wake of the violent attack incited by former President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021, the barriers are going back up as President Joe Biden delivers the State of the Union address on March 1.
Both U.S. Capitol Police and the U.S. Secret Service have been monitoring developments, according to a statement from the Capitol Police force. There’s been close coordination as well with local law enforcement agencies like D.C. Metropolitan Police and D.C. National Guard.
Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for the Virginia State Police, told Daily Kos Monday that its agency “has been and continues to monitor the situation” and is working in conjunction with state, local, and federal authorities.
“This is the standard practice any time the potential exists for a significant protest that could disrupt the safe and efficient flow of traffic on Virginia highways,” Geller said.
The National Park Service did not immediately return a request for comment Monday seeking information about whether any permit requests had been filed for public land use related to the convoys.
Leaked financial data has shown that U.S.-backed donors flooded Canada with $3.6 million during the protests there. Comparably, some $4.3 million was raised from within Canada’s borders.
One of the largest American backers was Silicon Valley giant and longtime GOP donor Thomas Siebel. He poured $90,00 into the anti-vaccine mandate movement.
Some of the convoy groups have said once they arrive in Washington, they want congressional hearings held on the national removal of any remaining vaccine mandates or restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
American truck drivers are not obligated to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they do not cross international borders. Nor are they obligated to wear masks if they are driving a vehicle alone. Many of their grievances would also be subject to state laws, not federal ones.
In the end, congressional oversight might be exactly what the convoys get.
Appearing at the center of both the Canadian and American trucker convoy movements is anti-vaccine lawyer, Q-Anon enthusiast, and avowed Scientologist Leigh Dundas.
Dundas founded the Freedom Fighter Nation, a far right-wing conspiracy theory group, and has pushed Trump’s lies about election fraud routinely since 2020.
She spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally in California in November 2020 and on January 6, she was at the Capitol during the insurrection. She can even be seen in one video standing at a Capitol entrance near Jacob Chansley, the so-called “Q-Anon Shaman.”
Chansley is now serving a 41-month sentence.
Dundas told protesters on January 6, 2021 they should “stand the hell up” because they were “better off fighting on your feet and being prepared to die on your feet than living a life on your damned knees. To huge applause, Dundas told the crowd that protesters would be “well within our rights” to take “turncoats” who didn’t support Trump’s claim to victory in the 2020 election “out back to shoot ‘em or hang ‘em.”
Dondas has also made regular comparisons between COVID-19 restrictions and the Holocaust. Research by Media Matters for America turned up a litany of conspiracy theories pumped by the conservative attorney.
A representative for the House Oversight Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it anticipates opening a probe into the U.S. trucker convoy movement.
Other lawmakers, like Republican Reps. Lauren Boebert of Colorado or Andy Biggs of Arizona, have expressed support for the convoys. Over in the Senate, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has been vocal since last month in encouraging anti-mask and anti-vaccine trucker protests to move from Canada into the U.S.
American truckers have been frustrated with labor conditions for years, often citing the long hours and poor working conditions, including lack of suitable and safe parking for overnight stays.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos