On Wednesday, a group of American truckers began a cross-country drive from California to Washington to protest coronavirus restrictions, following in the footsteps of protests that halted Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, for weeks.
More than a dozen 18-wheeler trucks, as well as 50 pickup trucks and recreational vehicles, set out from Adelanto, California, roughly 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles.
The self-styled ‘People’s Convoy’ is embarking on an 11-day journey to the Beltway, a key route that encircles the United States capital, to demand an end to COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates.
“This is for our liberties and human rights. Enough already, “As he prepared to travel the 2,500-mile (4,000-km) trek, Ron Coleman, 61, a trucker from Reno, Nevada, stated.
Coleman, a 45-year trucker, said the group was also campaigning for an end to the emergency powers utilized by US politicians to enforce pandemic-related restrictions.
In Washington, preparations are being made for the convoy’s expected arrival and other such rallies in the following days. The Pentagon said it had cleared 400 National Guard members from the District of Columbia to assist at traffic checkpoints from Saturday until March 7.
A total of 50 tactical vehicles were also approved for deployment at traffic lights. In addition, up to 300 National Guard personnel from outside of Washington will be stationed at traffic control points if necessary.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “confident” in the security arrangements in place to secure Washington during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.
According to a statement, the People’s Convoy is slated to arrive in the Washington area on March 5, although there are no plans to enter the District of Columbia proper.
Brian Brase, a truck driver and one of the organizers, stated that “we’re not going anywhere” until the group’s demands are granted.
Brase predicted that thousands, if not tens of thousands, would take part. The convoy is described by organizers as nonpartisan, trucker-led, and supported by a diverse spectrum of ethnic minorities and religious faiths.
Truckers are making their requests despite the fact that most states in the United States have already relaxed many regulations.
In California, where the convoy begins, the state dropped universal mask rules last week, forcing vaccinated persons to wear masks only in high-risk sectors such as public transportation, schools, and healthcare facilities.
CONVOY IN PENNSYLVANIA
Another caravan, consisting of a single 18-wheeler and a number of pickup trucks and SUVs, left Scranton, Pennsylvania – Biden’s hometown – on Wednesday morning and was expected to arrive at the Beltway by the afternoon.
Organizer Bob Bolus told Washington television station WJLA that his caravan has no intention of breaking any laws or stopping traffic, but he cautioned that this could happen if their demands regarding pandemic mandates and gasoline costs are not met.
“They will not frighten or threaten us. We, not they, wield power “Bolus, a trucker who operates a tow truck company, agreed.
Protests in Ottawa clogged the streets for more than three weeks, and the busiest land bridge between Canada and the United States was closed for six days.
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To terminate the protests, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau employed rarely used emergency powers, and Canadian police restored a feeling of normalcy in Ottawa over the weekend.
In the United States, new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the coronavirus have dropped from all-time highs reached a month ago, while almost 2,000 people per day are still dying from the disease, and the total number of deaths since the pandemic began is approaching one million.