A convoy of truckers and other supporters circled the capital on the ring road for a second day on Monday, protesting Covid-19 mandates and hoping to catch lawmakers’ attention.
Brian Brase, a convoy organizer, told attendees gathered at a staging area in Hagerstown, Maryland that the convoy would once again avoid entering Washington, D.C. He stressed that protesters did not want to trigger an event violent like the January 6 attack on the Capitol, which he said would discredit the group.
And he added that the group had no intention of blocking the traffic.
“We don’t want to close the Beltway,” Mr. Brase said. “We want them to hear us roar.”
A similar protest on Sunday had minimal impact on traffic. The convoy – made up of several dozen trucks, as well as minivans, motorcycles, pickup trucks and sedans – made two loops around Interstate 495, known as the Capital Beltway, before returning to a staging area at Hagerstown Speedway, where the group has been based for several days. By the second lap, the group’s vehicles had scattered along the freeway and the congestion had taken on the appearance of an ordinary weekday commute.
Monday morning there seemed to be far fewer passenger vehicles and RVs than Sunday, and the group planned to circle the ring road only once.
Jennifer Anderson, 48, a CBD shop owner from Corpus Christi, Texas, said she joined the convoy to protest vaccination mandates preventing her from visiting her children and grandchildren in Canada . “It’s been two years since I broke bread with my family,” Ms Anderson said, adding she didn’t know when she would see them again.
She said she refused to receive a Covid-19 vaccine because she thought it was unsafe. (The Food and Drug Administration has fully approved vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna as safe and effective in adults.)
The main group behind the caravan, the people’s convoy, has called for an end to the national emergency that was first declared by President Donald Trump in March 2020 and recently extended by President Biden. Protesters also say they want meetings with lawmakers, congressional hearings on the origin of the pandemic and an end to government vaccine and mask mandates. Many states have already eased restrictions as reports of new coronavirus cases and deaths have declined in recent weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines in late February suggesting the vast majority of Americans could stop wearing masks, and many medical experts say vaccination mandates are effective in persuading more people to get vaccinated. , which they say helps prevent the spread. of the virus.
Christopher Rodriguez, director of the District of Columbia’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said Sunday the protest did not result in major disruptions to the city’s transportation routes. He warned, however, that it was an “unforeseeable” event. The city’s request to extend the National Guard presence was approved through Wednesday, with 249 troops and 15 heavy vehicles on site to respond to road disruptions.
The People’s Convoy was one of many groups inspired by Canadian protests against pandemic restrictions that have disrupted Ottawa, the capital, for weeks. Many members of the American group appeared to be aligned with far-right organizations and activists. On Saturday, People’s Convoy organizers shared a message of support from a prominent QAnon account on its official Telegram channel.
Mr. Brase said the group planned to meet with two Republican senators, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, on Tuesday.