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Tag: trucker convoy

‘Peoples Convoy’ D.C. Demo Permit Is Rejected By National Park Service

Truckers! Freedom! The open road! Something something vaccines and mandates and masks mean that truckers need to protest the indignity of public health measures that have been proven to mitigate the dangerous impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. What was an astro-turfed Canadian protest has now turned into a manufactured domestic one. Think Fox News’ immigrant caravans, but with mostly white people and actually dangerous.

On Wednesday news came out that the “People’s Convoy” had hit a hurdle in its movement as the National Park Service partially denied the overblown group’s request for a permit to turn the D.C. National Mall into a trucker encampment. Why they “partially denied” the request may have been due to some of the convoy’s lead organizer Brian Brase answers to their questions. The Daily Beast reports that when the Park Service asked Brase, “Do you have any reason to believe or any information indicating that any individual, group, or organization might seek to disrupt the activity for which this application is submitted?” Brase’s response of “Antifa” was not sufficient.

Oh, wait. There’s a lot more from these freedom fighters.

Brase also may have shot himself in the foot by overselling the convoy’s size, telling the Park Service he expects somewhere between “10,000 to 100,000” supporters to show up. Considering how small the trucker convoys have been thus far, even with media vampires like Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas trying to get attention for the make-it-up-while-we-go freedom statement thing, it’s hard to believe they would be able to muster half of the low end of that range. However, as NBC News’ Terry Bouton reported a few days ago, the success of the convoy is in the right-wing optics. Maybe Brase is thinking “10,000 to 100,000” hours of right-wing news coverage?

The far-right was well represented at the convoy. Members of white supremacist and anti-government groups that were at the center of the Capitol insurrection have been heavily involved in its planning. Erik Rohde, a national leader of Three Percenters, was a “consultant” to the "People’s Convoy." (In return the "People’s Convoy" official Telegram account urged supporters to donate to a protest march on the Washington state capitol that Rohde was organizing). Three Percenter and Proud Boy Telegram channels have organized support and raised money for the "People’s Convoy." In Wisconsin, convoy organizers called on the Oath Keepers to provide security.

Maybe it’s something else that they’re working on? The Daily Beast reports that while being denied a permit didn’t figure into a Tuesday night meeting, talking about the vagaries of what the hell they’re trying to accomplish did come up. In fact, here’s how The Daily Beast explained it: “organizer Mike Landis said that while the prospect of ‘tear[ing] the fence down at the White House and hang[ing] politicians’ was ‘extremely enticing,’ he added that isn’t ‘why we are here.’” Why are they there again?

No word on that yet.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Wasting Gas: How Right-Wing ‘Convoy’ Fell Apart In Beltway Traffic

Day one of the great Washington, D.C., trucker convoy went great … for everyone but the truckers (some of whom are actually SUV or minivan drivers). For them, it was kind of embarrassing. After a day of confusion on Saturday, the plan for Sunday was to circle the Beltway twice at 40 miles per hour, making a show of strength that would be a “huge pain” for regular traffic. At most, they managed to be a minor irritation, slowing traffic in some places in a region accustomed to traffic jams.

The convoy was unable to stay together basically as soon as it encountered normal Beltway traffic. Normal Sunday Beltway traffic. Some bailed after a single lap. And the whole group got so stretched out and broken up that, “We’re not even sure we can call it a convoy anymore because it’s so dispersed among routine traffic at this point,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said.

The convoy plans to return Monday for even more laps—an interesting ambition considering that some of them couldn’t hack it for two laps in light traffic, and Monday they’ll be encountering higher weekday traffic.

That said, nobody really knows what to expect from this unpredictable, nonsensical pack of assholes. They say they’re protesting until their demands are met, but they don't really have coherent demands. They say they’ve come to the nation’s capital, in some cases from across the country, to protest public health restrictions that were dropping well before they set out. Some of them are talking about high gas prices, while spending hundreds of dollars in gas to try to disrupt other people’s lives. Some flew Confederate battle flags, because of course they damn well did. There’s really no point here beyond the far right asserting its media-given right to attention.

Bear in mind if and when you see descriptions of the people involved in this as somehow representing the working class that these are people who can take weeks and spend thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t even have a real set of demands.

So far, convoy organizers are saying they won’t go into Washington, D.C., itself, staying on the Beltway that loops around it while being based in Hagerstown, Maryland. But other groups of truckers and associated vehicles are expected to join the group that’s already there, which could create significant hassle for residents of the region—people the convoy members are all too happy to create problems for, since they’re largely Democrats. A National Guard presence in the District of Columbia has been extended through Wednesday as things develop.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

The Dark Money Outfit Behind Far-Right ‘Truck Convoy’ Movement

One dark-money conservative group that was developed to fund efforts challenging the outcome of the presidential election pivoted its financial efforts to support the trucker convoy, per a new report published by The Daily Beast.

By Wednesday, February 23, the American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedoms (AFCLF) had raised a total of $464,731 for what is protesters have billed “the People’s Convoy.” In recent days, the group's fundraising amount has tripled and is expected to continue to increase in the coming days.

The far-right group, which previously focused on raising funding to push former President Donald Trump's false election claims, has stated that “100% OF THE DONATIONS GO TO SUPPORTING THE CONVOY!”

“Convoy up, America — the donate button is going toward the funding of the ride to Freedom: we are going to take back our country for ourselves and future generations!” the group's website says. The group explained that donated funds will “reimburse fuel and hard costs of the trucker,” as they noted that “the fund is being handled by volunteer accountants and overseen by a law firm.”

Since the group is categorized as a non-profit structured under section 501(c)3 of the tax code, the AFCLF has the advantage of getting the best of both worlds: tax-deductible donations, which would be considered "gifts," and the ability to conceal the identity of its donors.

When The Beast contacted AFCLF chair Chris Marston, it asked him another of critical questions about the funding along with who would qualify to receive it. However, according to The Beast, Martson offered no solid answers saying “everything came together too quickly to establish rules.”

“Trucker leaders are on finance committee to determine where needs are but methods depend on the nature of expense,” Marston said via text message. “This all came together too fast to have pre-determined rules so we set up a committee with Lawyer, account, and trucker oversight.” [sic]

Martson went on to add that a lot of the group's planning efforts are still undetermined.

“We don’t have agreements with truckers on destination plans,” Marston explained. “We are supporting fuel, food, signage and basics for their journey,” he said, adding that the organization “coordinated with local authorities along the path to be cooperative.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Ron Johnson Compares Anti-Vax Convoy To Holocaust Victims

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) on Monday compared a convoy of anti-vaccine truckers in Canada to those exterminated by the Nazis during the Holocaust and falsely claimed that the self-named "Freedom Convoy" had acted lawfully to stand up to "tyrants."

In a Wisconsin conservative radio show appearance, Johnson told host Vicki McKenna that "very peaceful" protests are the best way to fight COVID-19 safety measures, and said that that was "the hallmark of what happened in Canada."

He claimed that his wife had seen a report that the truckers "were honking their horns, it was kinda disturbing the peace, [and so] they stopped honking their horns. Don't do anything unlawful." In reality, it took a court order to get hundreds of angry truckers to stop blaring their horns as they intentionally blocked traffic in the nation's capital city of Ottawa.

"I thought the conduct of the truckers, the Canadians up there, was just exemplary," Johnson continued. "That's what you need to keep doing. Again, it's not gonna go away. I'm hearing a truck convoy in the U.S. — we'll see what comes of that. We'll see how the tyrants react to it."

He then suggested that the Canadian government's attempts to disburse the convoy were analogous to the genocide of millions of people under Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime:

I recently downloaded Martin Niemöller's famous quote: "First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak [out] because I was not a socialist" — and you know how it goes on — and "then they came for the trade unionists" and "I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me." I think I heard one of the Canadian protesters paraphrase that. People are noticing. People are awakening.

The group of truck drivers upset about a variety of Canada's rules aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 — including a rule that unvaccinated truckers quarantine for a few days after reentering the country following travel in the United States — formed a convoy to block highways, bridges, and border crossings in Ottawa and other parts of Canada.

Contrary to Johnson's claims that the group's behavior has been "exemplary" and lawful, its weeks-long protests were anything but.

Indeed police arrested 11 protesters last Monday blocking a border crossing in Alberta, seizing a "cache of firearms with a large quantity of ammunition," apparently for use in a possible confrontation with law enforcement.

Other convoy members forced small businesses to shut down, caused damage to government vehicles, tried to make an Ottawa homeless shelter feed them, impeded the nation's supply chain and economy, waved Nazi flags, and even desecrated Canada's National War Memorial.

Even Conservative officials in Canada criticized the unpopular demonstrations and urged the convoys to go home. But Johnson and other Republicans in the United States have been cheering them on and even egging on anti-vaccine extremists at home to follow the Canadian truckers' example and shut down American supply chains and businesses.

Johnson is but the latest in a growing string of GOP politicians comparing public health efforts to address a pandemic that has killed more than 920,000 Americans with the Holocaust.

Last summer, Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene attacked face mask and vaccine requirements as similar to "Nazi practices." After widespread criticism, she apologized for her "offensive" and "hurtful" analogy — and then three weeks later likened President Joe Biden's efforts to make vaccines available door-to-door for those who wanted them to Nazi "Brownshirts."

Around the same time, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert belittled public health workers offering free in-home vaccination as "Needle Nazis."

In January, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson had to apologize for comparing a vaccination requirement for Washington, D.C., bars, and restaurants to a "Gesundheitspass." German for "health pass," Nazis used the term as part of its "racial hygiene" requirement.

The Auschwitz Memorial in Poland condemned analogies of this type in December, writing, "Exploiting of the tragedy of all people who between 1933-45 suffered, were humiliated, tortured & murdered by the totalitarian regime of Nazi Germany to argue against vaccination that saves human lives is a sad symptom of moral and intellectual decay."

In a separate interview on Monday, Johnson told Family Research Council President Tony Perkins that by continuing to treat the pandemic as a public health emergency — even as the coronavirus kills about 2,000 Americans each day — Biden is keeping the American people in a "perpetual state of fear."

Johnson claimed that the federal government, pharmaceutical industry, news media, and tech companies are all part of a nefarious "COVID cartel" that has "cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives" by not embracing unproven treatments.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Far-Right Trucker Convoy Plans To 'Clog' DC Beltway, Cause Traffic Snarls

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

Ottawa Residents Blast Truckers With Raunchy ‘Gay Cowboy’ Song

In Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, a convoy of anti-vax truckers have been protesting against the Canadian government’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement for truckers reentering Canada from the United States — and many Ottawa residents have grown impatient with the traffic jams and gridlock they have created. Some of those Ottawa residents, according to LGBTQ Nation’s Bil Browning, have responded by “using an explicit heavy metal song about gay cowboys having sex to overpower the group’s communications and broadcast it to anyone listening.”

The song is “Ram Ranch,” a 2012 recording by Canadian rocker Grant MacDonald. “Ram Ranch,” Browning reports, “is being blasted over several Zellow channels dedicated to the convoy.”

“The right-wing activists would frequently start to sing songs like the Canadian national anthem, and it gave the folks behind #RamRanchResistance the idea of turning patriotic into pornographic,” Browning explains. “Over and over, the activists interrupt the various channels to broadcast the 2012 tune that starts with ‘18 naked cowboys in the shower at Ram Ranch.’ And then, signs started popping up all over town telling the truckers, ‘Welcome to Ram Ranch.’”

McDonald was glad to know his song was being used by #RamRanchResistance. The singer told Rolling Stone, “I’m just elated, totally elated that my song could be used to stand up for science.”

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

GOP Politicians Complain About Supply Chain While Promoting Trucker Blockade

For months, congressional Republicans have been falsely blaming troubles with international supply chains on President Joe Biden and Democratic policies. Now, as Biden's administration works to address the challenges, many of the same Republicans are urging anti-vaccine protesters to take actions to make it worse.

A group of Canadian truckers calling themselves a "Freedom Convoy" has spent the past few weeks blocking highways and bridges in the capital city of Ottawa and other places, including the Ambassador Bridge border crossing between Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit, Michigan. Their actions, they say, are in protest against COVID-19 safety mandates, including a requirement that unvaccinated truckers quarantine after reentering the country following visits to the United States.

Members of the convoy caused a shutdown of local businesses, damaged government vehicles, attempted to force an Ottawa homeless shelter to give them food, waved swastika flags, desecrated Canada's National War Memorial, and impeded border crossings. Eventually, the government stepped in and has been dispersing the wildly unpopular blockades.

Though experts say these extremists in trucks already have done significant damage to the economy and supply chains, some Republicans are openly urging American anti-vaccine activists to do the same thing at home.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the right-wing website Daily Signal on Thursday, "It'd be great" if truckers shut down U.S. cities such as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

“I hope the truckers do come to America, and I hope they clog up cities," he said. "I'm all for it."

In a November op-ed for the West Kentucky Star, Paul wrote, "Lately, you might have noticed an increase in prices at the gas pump, the grocery store, and pretty much everything else you can buy. The shelves at stores are empty, employers can't find workers to fill positions, and Americans everywhere are bracing for higher taxes.

"Welcome to Joe Biden's and the Democrats' socialist America. In their America, it's seemingly okay to spend trillions of dollars, rack up copious amounts of debt, and ignore a crisis at hand."

"The United States didn't have a supply chain crisis until Joe Biden became president," Rep. Lance Gooden of Texas tweeted in October.

But Saturday, Gooden told Fox News, "I would absolutely welcome a similar pronouncement of protest in our nation's capital by truckers and anyone who wants their freedoms back."

Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said in December, "Our country is in the middle of a catastrophic supply chain crisis caused by Biden's incompetent administration."

On February 10 he suggested that Democratic officials easing safety mandates as the omicron waves subside might really be doing so because of what was happening in Canada.

"The Science hasn't changed, their poll numbers have. Oh and #freedomconvoy22 is making an impact. The last thing the [they] want is an American trucker convoy," he warned.

Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert cheered on a protest against vaccine mandates by city workers that took place on February 7 in New York City, encouraging protesters to shut down American bridges.

"Freedom is contagious and there's no vaccine that can shut it down. The Canadian Freedom Convoy has sparked a fire in the hearts of patriots," Boebert tweeted on February 9. "Now the Brooklyn Bridge has been shut down with protests. Let's take our nation back from medical tyranny!"

Back in November, she tweeted, "Black Friday was better without supply chain shortages."

While Republican politicians in the United States and their Fox News allies are abandoning the pretense of wanting "law and order" and cheering on the convoy, politicians in Canada, including Conservatives, have seen enough.

Doug Ford, the premier of Ontario and a member of its Progressive Conservative Party, scolded the truckers on February 11 and told them to leave. "Your right to make a political statement does not outweigh the right of thousands of workers to make a living," he warned.

And after initially backing the protesters, the House of Commons interim Conservative Party Leader Candice Bergen also urged them to end their blockades.

"I believe the time has come to take down the barricades, stop the disruptive action, and come together. The economy you want to see reopened is hurting," she said on February10. "I believe this is not what you want to do."

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Right-Wing Dreams Of Anti-Vaxxer Truckers Clogging Superbowl Was An Epic Fail

Last week, the buzz on right-wing social media was that a slew of American anti-vax truckers, inspired by their crybaby Canadian counterparts, were going to overwhelm the Super Bowl with a convoy of their very own. Because if there's anyone who could manage to ruin something as decidedly apolitical and fun as the Superbowl, it's a bunch of far-right faketriots.

Enter Senator Rand Paul

Republican Senator Rand Paul, never missing an opportunity to pretend to know a thing about freedom and the constitution, was apparently very stocked for this. Despite Paul and his party spending years maligning black football players kneeling to protest racial injustice and police brutality, as well as supporting violent crackdowns of Black Lives Matters protests, they suddenly care about civil disobedience when it nicely coincides with their pro-white, anti-science agenda.

Asked by The Daily Signal about his thoughts on the convoy and the potential for it to spill over into Los Angeles, home of Sunday's Super Bowl, or into the nation's capital, Paul said Thursday that "it'd be great" if the anti-mandate, truck-inspired protests popped in the United States to "clog things up."

"I'm all for it," Paul, a longtime opponent to masking and vaccine mandates, told the conservative media outlet. "Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates."

Well, it looks like Senator Paul and the GOP's wet dream of an anti-vaxx brigade of whiny truckers trying to destroy an event revered by normal people who were vaccinated didn't go as planned.

If any truckers showed up, they were barely visible.

"I think they ran out of time," Welton Chang, whose Washington-based firm, Pyrra, has been following online talk about the plan to protest the Super Bowl, said Saturday. He also cited the lack of consensus around whether the marquee sporting event was an appropriate target.

Also, a Reuters review of social media has also found very little support for a Super Bowl plan and very little mention of a Super Bowl protest on TruckersForFreedom, a popular Telegram channel devoted to sharing news from the protests in Canada and elsewhere.

I guess childish and ignorant right-wingers like Senator Paul can still dream.

Michael Hayne is a comedian, writer, voice artist, podcaster, and impressionist. Follow his work on Facebook and TikTok