A caravan of truckers that left California for Washington, D.C., on Friday to protest coronavirus mandates arrived in Las Vegas early Saturday with only five trucks in its ranks, the organizers said, prompting them to scrap the convoy and direct members to merge with other anti-mandate groups heading to the capital.
The caravan, named Freedom Convoy USA 2022, was one of several in the United States, modeled after the Canadian protests, that drove off this week toward Washington to demand, among other things, an end to the pandemic national emergency that began in March 2020, and an end to government rules requiring masks and vaccinations.
According to its Facebook page, the Freedom Convoy’s route started in Los Angeles on Friday and was scheduled to make stops in Salt Lake City, Denver and other major cities before arriving in Washington on March 1 in time for President Biden’s State of the Union address. But it appeared that the group couldn’t hold on to its supporters for long.
“There are two other convoys that have massive turnouts, and are in progress to the D.C. area as we speak,” the organizers wrote on Facebook early Saturday, referring to two groups called the People’s Convoy and the Texas Convoy.
“We are making the decision to send any truckers planned to meet at our routes to start heading to D.C. for the event on the National Mall, or to join the convoys named above as they are about to merge into one,” the organizers wrote.
The decision drew mixed reactions.
“I spent days trying to coordinate a rally in support of our truckers. I have three tiny kids and work a full-time job and stretched myself thin then made myself look so stupid. I’m pretty hurt by all this,” one person commented on the post.
“I think all of the convoys merging together will have a much bigger impact than several smaller convoys. The bigger, the better,” a second person wrote.
Yet another convoy left on Wednesday from Adelanto, Calif., roughly 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles. About 40 truckers rolled out, and a rally that resembled a Make America Great Again event drew about a hundred more vehicles.
Many of those behind the demonstration appeared to be aligned with far-right organizations and activists, and some had connections to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.
Brian Brase, a convoy spokesman and truck driver based in Ohio, said the motorcade was expected to grow as the trucks wended across the country. “We believe tens of thousands will join in,” he said.
The Pentagon has approved the deployment of 700 unarmed National Guard troops to Washington, D.C., to prepare for the convoys and assist with traffic control during any demonstrations, The Associated Press reported.