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Big Rig Let Down: What Actually Happened To The So-Called People’s Convoy?

It’s hard to take the "People’s Convoy" trucker caravan seriously. It started as a protest against the Covid mask and vaccination restrictions, and continued after most requirements had been removed. Many of the convoy's heavy rigs, pickup trucks, and SUVs are branded with QAnon conspiracy theories. The organisers of the convoy promised to shut down Washington, D.C. Instead, they parked their trucks at a stock-car racetrack in western Maryland and then drove around the D.C. Beltway for a few gaffe-filled laps. The convoy has been mocked in late-night talk show monologues and newspaper op-eds, as well as in internet memes. The general view is that it was a total failure.

What Happened?

The convoy's pledge to be a "huge pain" for the DC metro area fell short after it took a single loop around I-495, commonly known as the Beltway, which encircles Washington DC.

Brian Brase, an Ohio trucker who organised the convoy, said on the first day of the protests near the nation's capital that the truckers would drive one additional loop of the Beltway each day until their demands were satisfied. Those requests were principally aimed at repealing coronavirus requirements and lifting the national state of emergency imposed after the outbreak.

However, the convoy has yet to carry through its threat to drive repeated circuits around the Beltway. Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, as well as Republican Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene, Matt Gaetz, and Thomas Massie, have all met with its officials.

“We’re gonna keep looping the beltway until heard,” Mr Brase told Mr Cruz. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re not gonna leave. We’re gonna keep doing what we’re doing until we start getting more meetings like we just had today.”

Mr Cruz paid lip service to the convoy, saying the US version of the protest continues the “legacy” of the Canadian Freedom Convoy, which shut down border crossings and clogged up Ottawa’s streets for the better part of a month. “They want government to leave them the hell alone,” Mr Cruz said of the truckers.

A Poor Start

On the 7th March, the truckers and a group of vehicles with upside-down American flags ended up lost amid the highway’s substantial traffic. Indeed, some semi-trucks and pickup vehicles also broke down, adding to the organisers’ misery. Compounding this, in the afternoon of the protests, a hood of a white pickup truck flipped open on the Greenbelt, and other vehicles broke down at the Temple Hills and Landover exits.

A few days later, Brian Brase told the drivers to take a day to rest due to rain in the Washington DC region.

Still More to Come

On Wednesday, members of the "People's Convoy" drove into Washington DC for the first time, prompting city police to close exits leading into the US capital. After doing circles around the Beltway for many days, the truckers' convoy decided to try to block three lanes of traffic on I-495 before heading into Washington, DC.

The convoy took I-395 via Arlington before crossing the 14th Street Bridge into Washington, DC. The queue of hundreds of vehicles caused significant delays on I-395, prompting the city to issue a traffic alert for commuters on the Beltway, I-295, and I-695. According to city officials, police shut down several ingress points into the city in response to the convoy.

Although most COVID restrictions have been lifted, the only substantial measures that remain are masked travel on flights, trains, and public transportation, as well as the ongoing National State of Emergency declared at the start of the epidemic.

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