Long lines of 18-wheelers and other trucks crowded the roads of Hagerstown, Maryland early Saturday as the Washington, DC-area prepared for protests over COVID-19 mandates.
While other similar US trucker convoys have fizzled, this one started gaining steam Friday evening. Roughly 1,000 vehicles arriving from all directions converged on Hagerstown Speedway, clogging traffic, the Washington Post reported.
As of 8 p.m., a two-mile-long line of cars and trucks could be seen stuck in traffic on Route 40 trying to get into the location, WUSA-9 TV reported.
Some truckers participating in the “People’s Convoy” said they planned to head to the DC Beltway area Saturday, but others said they were awaiting instructions.
When asked Friday night about the group’s plans, People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis told the Washington Post, “We’re going to keep annoying D.C. … Just make them wonder a little bit.”
“Look, we’re truck drivers; we’re very spontaneous.” he added.
Brian Brase, another organizer for the convoy, on Friday was more specific. Brase told the newspaper protestors would no longer be targeting the Beltway area as previously planned — and could be staying in Hagerstown through Saturday.
He said the convoy would likely rally there Saturday night before probably heading to another location “only two miles from the Beltway” where some US senators and other representatives would be there to meet with them.
However, the People’s Convoy as of Saturday morning had not updated its website to reflect such a route change.
As a precaution, the National Guard has been called to help with DC-area traffic control through at least Monday, WUSA-9 reported. The Metropolitan Police Department’s Civil Disturbance Unit has also been activated through March 13.
The convoy is rolling along even as municipalities across the country — including New York City — have dropped many of its COVID-19-related mandates in response to infection rates dropping.
It is following the lead of Canada’s larger “Freedom Convoy,” which included protestors spending three weeks demonstrating against COVID-19 mandates and blocking US border crossings into Ottawa. More than 100 people were arrested.
Meanwhile, several similar, smaller scale, convoys are expected to take place in New Jersey over this weekend, according to Patch.com
Organizers of the event have said it will be a nonpartisan demonstration.