VIRGINIA/DC — The People’s Convoy — a group of big rigs, pickup trucks, SUVs and sedans — is planning to return to the Capital Beltway on Monday to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates after making a loop around the interstate on Sunday.
The convoy participants met at the Hagerstown Speedway on Monday morning, where they have been staying for the past few days. Hagerstown is about 60 miles from the Maryland portion of the Beltway. The convoy is expected to arrive at the Beltway by early afternoon Monday.
If drivers on the Beltway are interfering with the convoy, participants should call the police, convoy organizer Brian Brase said at the meeting in Hagerstown on Monday morning.
“Law enforcement is working with us, not against us,” Brase told the participants.
For anybody trying to mess with the convoy, “You are being watched,” he said.
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The Virginia State Police said last week that it has been in contact with the group’s organizers to ensure they understand Virginia’s traffic laws.
Brase, a trucker from Ohio, told participants to memorize the license plate number or take a photo of the license plate of any vehicle interfering with the convoy and then call the police. Convoy participants attending the meeting in Hagerstown said tractor trailers were among the vehicles interfering with the convoy on Sunday.
“Remain vigilant and safe,” said Brase, who admonished the cigarette smokers among the convoy. “Please stop throwing your cigarette butts on the ground.”
On Monday, the group planned to do two laps around the Beltway before returning to the Hagerstown Speedway.
The Virginia Department of Transportation issued an alert Monday morning about the protest convoy: “Heads Up, Friends! There’s expected to be increased commercial and passenger vehicle traffic on the Beltway today starting midmorning time.”
On Sunday, the convoy consisted of truckers, SUVs with trailers and cars, causing congestion at some points during their trip to D.C. and back to Hagerstown, WTOP reported.
On the way to the Beltway from Hagerstown on Interstate 70 and Interstate 270, the convoy plans to drive in a single file in the right lane. Once it arrives at the Capital Beltway later Monday, the convoy plans to drive in the two right lanes of the Beltway.
The trucker convoy is showing that the cost of fuel is not high enough for to prevent supporters from participating in the protest. The average semi-truck gets about 6.5 miles per gallon, according to ArrowTruck.com.
The lowest price for diesel in Hagerstown, Maryland, is $3.93 per gallon, according to GasBuddy, and the highest is $4.56. At an average of $4.25 per gallon and the average trip from Hagerstown to I-495, and around the Beltway and back to Hagerstown, is about 184 miles.
Each drive from Hagerstown, a trip around the Beltway, and back to Hagerstown will cost about $120.32 each trip for one truck. If there are 100 trucks that is more than $12,000 in diesel fuel, Raw Story reported.
“Truckers bitching about fuel costs but they can take time off to drive all the way to Washington DC in a stupid … convoy and put diesel in at at 4 bucks a gallon to protest mask mandates that don’t exist is about the dumbest thing I think I have ever heard,” a person on Twitter wrote. “Give me a break!”
Modeled after the Freedom Convoy that blockaded downtown Ottawa for three weeks in protest of vaccine mandates in Canada, the U.S. protesters say they are against government overreach. The People’s Convoy says it wants to end the federal proclamation of a national emergency due to COVID-19. Some members embarked from California on Feb. 23 on a cross-country trip that is now culminating near D.C.
At Monday’s meeting in Hagerstown, Brase said a governor of a nearby state is hoping to meet with the convoy participants to show his support. He did not name the governor because the plans have not been finalized.
He told The Washington Post that the convoy participants also hope to have a dialogue with members of Congress who can help “get what we’re looking for pushed through in a timely fashion.”
“If they don’t come to the table to meet with us or they ignore us, then every day it will escalate,” he said.