I was really interested in the Canadian trucker protest, so when I read that there were American truckers who wanted to imitate it, I was initially worried because of how much Americans love their guns. There was talk of driving into Washington, DC on the day of the State of the Union speech and of driving by the White House to tell President Biden how they felt about mask and vaccine mandates. Washington, DC is shut down pretty securely for the SOTU speech, so the big rally on The Mall turned out about 2 dozen people, most of them there to stream the event. Erm, non-event.
There were a few attempts at convoys after that, but none came to fruition. But on Friday night an actual convoy approached DC and stopped for the night at the Hagerstown, MD speedway, about an hour north of where I live. There was no planning. But there is a truckload of crazy in this convoy:
But as its Covid mission has become less clear, the group’s channels have turned to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where conspiracy-minded thinking has flourished. While some group members have admonished Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion, QAnon and anti-vaccine contingents within the groups have seized on a false conspiracy theory that the war is a cover for a military operation backed by former President Donald Trump in Ukraine.
The conspiracy theory, which is baseless and has roots in QAnon mythology, alleges that Trump and Putin are secretly working together to stop bioweapons from being made by Dr. Anthony Fauci in Ukraine and that shelling in Ukraine has targeted the secret laboratories. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has emerged in the past year as a main target for far-right conspiracy theories.
(If you saw the Russia Today video clip of US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland on social media on Tuesday, it was in service of that Russian/Chinese disinformation campaign.)
The group was supposed to roll toward DC on Saturday and had a vague plan to block traffic on the Beltway. However the Capital Beltway is 64 miles long, and once again the lack of actual planning scuttled a convoy. In addition, in a development I found worrisome, the convoy leaders called off the Saturday trip because they learned they would not be allowed to bring concealed weapons into the city.
They still haven’t been able to block traffic on the Beltway, but something troubling is going on in Hagerstown. First, the simple fact that the nation’s capital is always under heavy security fed into their paranoia and they now think that a trap has been set for them in DC, so now they’ve canceled the going-into-DC part of the convoy.
Second, as I noted earlier, the convoy reeks of QAnon. Third, and related, the convoy now has the support of 2 US Senators, Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson. The convoy’s leaders met with them Tuesday morning, with reporters in attendance. When the reporters asked the convoy leaders what the wanted, they had no answer:
Lead convoy organizer Brian Brase told The Daily Beast following the presser that the anti-vaccine mandate truckers plan to stick around the metro area for an indeterminate amount of time, potentially moving their camp closer to D.C. (from their current base at a speedway in Hagerstown, Maryland) if their unspecified demands are not met. “This is a process that we are hoping to do diplomatically,” Brase said. “We’re in it for the long haul.” He continued: “We could go indefinitely, right now, if that’s what it takes. We are not going away.”
A new investigation by the Tech Transparency Project (TTP) found that multiple militia groups, some of them associated with the anti-government Three Percenters, are urging their members to provide donations and security to the truckers, who are protesting Covid rules like mask mandates and vaccine requirements.
And fifth, the movement is poised to move to state capitol buildings which are not guarded as heavily as DC is:
.@brianbrase84 urged People's Convoy supporters not in Hagerstown, MD to "put the pressure on the state capitals. Right now, while we're here doing our thing. You need to be there doing your thing. Because together we can make this happen. But ain’t gonna get done with just us."
— Beatrice-Elizabeth Peterson (@MissBeaE) March 9, 2022
I’ve been saying this a lot, and it’s true here, too: I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I don’t think it’s going to be good. This seems to be a good signoff for now: