HAGERSTOWN, Md. — A large group of truck drivers and their supporters who object to COVID-19 mandates drove two loops around the beltway surrounding Washington, D.C., deliberately driving slowly to snarl traffic and make their feelings known to lawmakers.
Protesters staged at the Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland during the weekend before heading down a single lane of Interstate 81.
Pls expect heavy traffic and delays on the Beltway today in both VA and MD (assume Inner Loop and Outer Loop) from mid-morning throughout the day. Local folks, pls use primary and secondary roads to avoid heavy traffic. Check https://t.co/1PROO2bITd before you go! @VSPPIO @MDSHA— VDOT Northern VA (@VaDOTNOVA) March 6, 2022
The convoy headed to the Capital Beltway Sunday morning and drove two loops before they returned to Hagerstown, according to WJLA.
"The American Truckers Freedom Convoy" was also expected to host a rally in Woodford in Caroline County, Virginia, according to WUSA.
Truckers from multiple convoys are expected to attend a rally Monday, WUSA reported.Then their leaders expect to meet with Congress and plan to hold a news conference on Capitol Hill, according to organizers.
"The People's Convoy," which departed from California last week and began arriving at the speedway Friday afternoon, according to WUSA, follows similar demonstrations by truckers in Canada upset at vaccine requirements to cross the Canadian border.
“The blue-collar man isn’t making what he needs to make to survive anymore,” said Stephen Krown, a trucker opposed to COVID regulations. “We’re pretty much at the poverty line, but no body looks at it that way. It’s keep taking, keep taking from us to pay everybody else.”
A few images from the Hagerstown Speedway, where truckers and others who support their convoys are starting to arrive. pic.twitter.com/0pCWSWUJNU— Heather Graf (@Heather7News) March 4, 2022
READ MORE FROM WUSA: Hundreds of trucks descend on nation's capital to protest COVID mandates
Virginia State Police previously announced it was monitoring and preparing for a potential trucker convey designed to impact traffic in and around Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
U.S. Capitol Police erected a fence around the Capitol building ahead of President Joe Biden's State of the Union address “out of an abundance of caution,” in consultation with the Secret Service.
The move came as officials in Washington prepared for trucker convoys that are planning protests against pandemic restrictions. The Pentagon has already approved the deployment of 700 unarmed National Guard troops to be used to assist with traffic control during potential demonstrations.
Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums. Many have different starting points, departure dates, and routes, though some were scheduled to arrive in time for the State of the Union address, no convoy disrupted the State of Union. Others may arrive afterward.
"Virginia State Police respects the public’s First Amendment rights and has been in contact with various groups’ organizers to ensure their understanding of Virginia traffic laws," a Virginia State Police spokesperson wrote in a statement. "These communications have also enabled us to share our expectations related to keeping traffic flowing safely and efficiently on Virginia highways, especially in the case of emergencies and for first responder vehicles."
Drivers can expect to see an increase in Virginia State Police patrols in Northern Virginia, should a trucker convoy enter the region.
"This week, the governor has received regular briefings on the incoming trucker convoy," a spokesperson for Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Friday "We remain dedicated to ensuring that individuals can express their first amendment rights while continuing the safe flow of traffic for all travelers. We anticipate the possibility of heavier than normal traffic this weekend and will continue to monitor with the help from our state, local and federal partners."
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