• Mon. May 29th, 2023


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Led by Truckers, Hundreds of Vehicles Protesting Covid Mandates Encircle Washington

Although the People’s Convoy was one of several groups inspired by the Canadian protests against pandemic measures that disrupted the capital of Ottawa for three weeks, many in the group appeared to be aligned with far-right organizations and activists. On Saturday, organizers with the People’s Convoy shared a supportive post from a prominent QAnon account on its official Telegram channel.

The convoy first departed from Adelanto, Calif., on Feb. 23 with plans to end the demonstration in the Washington area. Before Sunday, the truckers gathered at a racetrack in nearby Hagerstown, Md., about 70 miles northwest of the capital, converging with other drivers and their supporters.

As the convoy made its way from the Hagerstown Speedway to the highway on Sunday morning, a winding road that was approximately five miles was lined with people waving flags.

By late morning, the convoy, traveling east on Interstate 70 between Hagerstown and Frederick, had caused significant traffic slowdowns. There was a wreck, though it was unclear what caused it. At other points, drivers pulled over to stop and wave flags. As the convoy slowly progressed toward I-495, a handful of officers from the Maryland State Police could be seen, in some cases helping to clear flags from the road. Many overpasses were crowded with onlookers waving flags, though some motorists passing the convoy appeared frustrated at the congestion.

In the early afternoon, the convoy continued to slow traffic, but the vehicles were so spread out — across five lanes — that the sense of a mass presence faded, though the traffic itself lingered. At one point just before the vehicles reached I-495, car speeds reached about 70 miles per hour, but then traffic tightened again, with cars settling into a rolling backup, going between 25 m.p.h. to at times less than 10.

Although overpasses later in the route contained fewer supporters of the convoy, many still waved flags and held signs thanking the truckers or expressing support for Mr. Trump. Few vehicles of the Maryland State Police were seen, but when the route crossed into Northern Virginia, a heavy police presence was evident, with Virginia troopers in patrol cars and on motorcycles.