American truckers have taken the cue from their Canadian counterparts and are plotting to descend on Washington, D.C., to protest Covid-19 mandates. The threat of a convoy convergence mucking up the gears of the nation’s capital even prompted the Pentagon on Tuesday to authorize the deployment of 700 National Guard troops, who will be unarmed, and 50 tactical vehicles. The question now is what exactly they’re going to have to respond to over the course of their deployment, which is slated to last for two weeks or so.
Truckers in Canada occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks — blocking traffic, forcing the closure of businesses, and harassing residents — but it’s unclear what kind on impact American offshoots could have on Washington, if they even make it there. The requests for assistance from the D.C. government and the Capitol Police are understandable given what happened last Jan. 6, but they’ve been made in response to disparate social media activity that may or may not result in enough action to clog up the nation’s capital.
There have been some early indications that America’s cobbled-together version of the Canadian “Freedom Convoy” could fall flat. The Department of Homeland Security earlier this month issued a memo warning that truckers were targeting both the Super Bowl and President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1. Unless you’re a Bengals fan, the Super Bowl went off without a hitch. There seems to be more activity leading up to Biden’s speech next Tuesday, but at least one highly touted trucker parade is off to a sputtering start.
Bob Bolus, who owns a truck parts store and towing outfit, had big plans for the convoy he was organizing out of Scranton, Pa. “I’ll give you an analogy of that of a giant boa constrictor,” he told a D.C. Fox affiliate on Sunday about the mayhem he planned to inflict on Washington. “That basically squeezes you, chokes you and it swallows you, and that’s what we’re going to do the D.C.”
Bolus was set to take off from Scranton on Wednesday, but there was only one problem: there was only one truck.
DC trucker convoy update from Scranton, PA:
There is currently only one truck in the convoy. Organizer Bob Bolus said they expected more people to join, and will call off the convoy if others don’t show up
Convoy was scheduled to leave an hour and 45 minutes ago pic.twitter.com/1IyQ3Nrv3O
— Julio-César Chávez (@JulioCesrChavez) February 23, 2022
Kevin Lewis of 7News in Washington tweeted that Bolus told him he had 10 to 20 trucks ready to go in Scranton, but was still mulling whether to head to D.C. He eventually decided to go for it, telling Lewis that the Scranton convoy planned to meet up with around 25 trucks in Pittson, Pa. He’d scaled down his plans to choke D.C. like a boa constrictor, though.
“We’re not going to cause a traffic problem any more than they live with every single day,” Bolus said.
Julio-César Chávez of Reuters has been trailing Bolus’ convoy. It doesn’t appear to be as substantial as Bolus claimed earlier on Wednesday. Chávez noted on Twitter that as of early Wednesday afternoon, the convoy featured eight vehicles, only one of which was an 18-wheeler, driven by Bolus. There were also five pickups, an SUV, and a sedan. “Organizer just told me the plan is to drive down to Harrisburg and then keep going to DC,” Chávez wrote before catching up with Bolus when he stopped in Harrisburg. Bolus brushed off the poor turnout. “We’ve got a few cars. … We’ve got people who see what we’re doing on social media and everyone else. It’s like having 10,000 people anyway.”
Bolus’ convoy isn’t the only group of anti-mandate protesters with designs on making it to D.C. The People’s Convoy, which claims to have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, is planning a cross-country trip that is scheduled to arrive in the D.C. area from California by March 5, although it does not plan to go into the city, according to the Associated Press.
The People’s Convoy is also leaving on Wednesday, but Ben Collins of NBC News reports that it only features around a dozen semis. “The American trucker convoy, at present, is very, very disorganized,” Collins added. “Attendance is a tiny fraction of the tens of thousands in Telegram groups.”
A quick update on the primary American trucker convoy:
The major route shared on Telegram is set to take off from a parking lot in Adelanto, California in a few minutes.⁰
There are probably a couple hundred people milling about, but maybe a dozen semis. pic.twitter.com/mmcm0oQpdl
— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) February 23, 2022
There are several other convoys planned and it’s impossible to know what will ultimately materialize out of the social media-driven push to replicate the Canadian trucker convoy in America, but anti-mandate protesters hoping fleets of semis will shut down Washington for weeks like they did in Ottawa should probably temper their expectations.