By any measure, the supposedly massive convoy of trucks that was supposed to sent a stern message to the government protesting its pandemic polices was a major bust. Part of the reason may have been that there seemed to be some confusion about some basic issues, such as when and where the trucks would gather and what they would do when they arrived. For people who claimed to want to seriously challenge the government, they were remarkably inept.
Some organizers wanted to stage the event on Tuesday, March 1st in Washington DC at the National Mall, which was the day when Joe Biden was to give the annual State of the Union address. Hardly anyone showed up, with reporters outnumbering the twenty or so people who showed up. Another group seemed to have set the target date to be Saturday, March 5th and some on Sunday, March 6th. Some wanted to rally in Washington DC while others planned to meet outside the city. It was also not clear what they intended to do. Create massive gridlock by parking on major streets in the city, like what happened in Ottawa, their inspiration for this event? Create massive traffic jams by driving at a crawl on the Washington Beltway? But beltway traffic is usually at a crawl anyway, so no one might even notice.
Furthermore, with the pandemic restrictions being lifted everywhere, it was not clear what the demands were to be. Besides, when it comes to masking restrictions, long distance truck drivers are the least inconvenienced since they spend their days along in the cabs of their trucks.
As a result, it should not be surprising that some of the convoys barely made it out of the gate.
A truck convoy scheduled to roll through Kansas and Missouri on Sunday and Monday on its way to the nation’s capital to protest vaccine mandates pulled the plug early Saturday. In a post on their Facebook page at 1:53 a.m., organizers of “Freedom Convoy USA 2022” said there weren’t enough participants to continue.
The convoy was scheduled to go through Kansas City around 6-7 p.m. Sunday, ending up in Oak Grove, Missouri, for the night, then continue on I-70 to St. Louis on Monday and stop in Indiana that night. The goal was to reach the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday to protest during President Joe Biden’s “State of the Union” address.
A planned “Freedom Convoy” in Jefferson City fell flat earlier this month when only a small group of mostly pickups and cars showed up to go to the Capitol. Two days later, the organizer wrote on Facebook that “I have separated myself from particular groups and I no longer feel as if my efforts to support a cause that’s literally going to starve everyone out and cause nothing but a nightmare for everyone, is worth it to me!”
But other convoys did make it close to Washington DC but what is emerging is a similar story. Some feared that they were being lured into a trap. Others suspect that this may have been used by some organizers as a grift, to separate the anti-vax, pro-Trump faithful from their money. and think that the might have been had.
Two weeks after departing Victorville, California—with the humble goal of completing a few laps around the D.C. Beltway—the only real commerce that the right-wing People’s Convoy trucker protest seems to have interrupted is the business of some of its participants.
Thousands of truckers and anti-mandate cheerleaders—bivouacked since Friday night about 90 miles from D.C. at a dirt-track speedway in Hagerstown, Maryland—appear to have locked their jaws on a mission. Some mission. Any mission. Whatever it may be.
First, the convoy purported to be about opposing national vaccine mandates. But then, people kept pointing out that the Supreme Court had already struck down President Joe Biden’s proposed vaccine mandate. Then, it seemed to be about drawing attention to a general, anti-COVID restrictions, anti-Biden, Let’s-Go-Brandon road trip, culminating in a traffic jam on the Beltway.
But just like that circular highway itself, there seems to be no terminus.
The ad hoc, figure-it-out-as-we-go mentality has raised all sorts of questions about whether the organizers have hewed to the law—or if the People’s Convoy has been, intentionally or not, a scam.
And according to fundraising totals, that’s looking like a $2 million question.
Some members were surprised to learn the protest was staying outside city limits. Although the convoy made that much clear in an early media statement, the group publicly has been less direct, letting the destination stand as “D.C. area,” “east coast,” or “Beltway area.”
“From the outside looking in, it’s hard to see where that money is going,” said Jared Holt, a researcher and Daily Beast contributor who studies American right-wing movements. “This has also frustrated some amount of people in the group’s Telegram chat rooms, who claim to have donated while anticipating a more dramatic protest. They fundraised and stockpiled as if they were going to camp out in the streets of D.C., but instead they’re kicking dirt at a racetrack in a city most D.C. residents have never even visited.”
That sentiment has foreboding undertones in Washington, and some truckers already suspect a Jan. 6 setup is playing out before their eyes.
Organizer Mike Landis accused right-wing conspiracy theorist Jacob Wohl of being a “paid actor” attempting to sucker the Convoy into a trap, after Wohl urged them to act more boldly in D.C. while offering any trucker that does such $200.
The Convoy’s daily fundraising tally on its website appears to have frozen on Saturday at $1,656,876. The day before, The Washington Post reported that a director of Marston’s nonprofit had a warrant out for fraud. The report sparked paranoia among some protesters, and perhaps at the AFCLF. The group deactivated its “leadership & organization” webpage that same day, according to archived versions of the site. Marston confirmed that Milacek remains on the board.
There has been very little media coverage of the convoy and I had to go and look to find reports of it. The war in Ukraine has undoubtedly driven other stories into the background.
I cannot see how this will end other than one by one the truckers leaving to get back to their lives and businesses. There is just so much time that you can spend cooling your heels at a racetrack in a remote area.