Washington, D.C., officials say they are monitoring plans for demonstrations after truck drivers threatened to block the Capital Beltway in the coming days and weeks.
The National Guard announced Tuesday that about 700 unarmed National Guard soldiers are scheduled to be deployed around the capital area to help control traffic and help local authorities resolve any problems.
Similar to the recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like The People’s Caravan and American Truckers Freedom Fund – all with different departure points, departure dates and routes. Some are due to arrive in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on 1 March; Others may arrive later.
Bob Paulus, owner of the Tow Truck Company of Pennsylvania, said a convoy left Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday morning. He said in an interview that the convoy will consist of 40 to 50 vehicles. Chopper’s footage that evening showed only a few cars parked at a break along I-95.
The truck driver’s protest could have a huge impact on your commute on Wednesday afternoon. An organizer said 20 truck drivers left Scranton, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday morning and headed to the Beltway. Justin Finch reports from News4.
Bols said the group intends to keep up with the flow of traffic on Wednesday, reversing earlier statements about closing the Beltway. He said a later closure is possible though.
Let’s put it this way: We’re not shutting down traffic today. If we don’t have a government decision on what rights they take from us, I would expect them to be closed in the future.”
He listed grievances related to mask mandates, COVID-19 vaccinations and fuel prices.
Law enforcement agencies in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. say they are monitoring what could be the number of trucking convoys coming to DC News 4’s Paul Wagner reports.
The convoy was expected to stop at US Route 50 and the Beltway in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Prince George’s County Public Schools asked parents to prepare for potential school bus delays on Wednesday.
Truck drivers spurred on by recent protests in Canada have apparently spoken on social media about the blockage of traffic across the metropolitan area, but the extent of the protests and how disruptive they are remains unclear.
Major General Sherry L. McCandless said National Guard forces would be ready to help control the traffic.
“our [Metropolitan Police Department] And the [U.S. Capitol Police] Partners have asked for our help in ensuring that people can demonstrate peacefully and safely, and we stand ready to help.
About 400 National Guard members will be deployed in the capital and 50 large tactical vehicles at designated transit points no later than Saturday at 1 p.m., according to a National Guard statement. The statement said Guard personnel could be deployed 24 hours a day until March 7.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin has also approved 300 guards from outside the capital
Mark Ginsberg, president of the Alliance for a Safer Web, said the coming weeks could be another tough time for the capital.
“There is a strange resemblance on social media to the prelude to the violence of the January 6 insurgency in Washington, because when we review the social media that sent this caravan out, a lot of this has an extremist component,” he said.
D.C. Dell Eleanor Holmes Norton received a briefing from the US Capitol Police on Wednesday about its preparations.
Capitol Police’s goal is to ensure that lawmakers and staff have access to and from the State of the Union address. They told Norton that they monitor online chatter and know how to stop and redirect truck drivers, although they did not provide further details on their strategy.
The National Guard will be deployed to handle traffic control. Capitol Police is the lead agency, but other local agencies will all be on board.
Norton said she would demand that any fence be temporary. A fence is being considered around the Capitol, but no decision has been made.
Capitol Hill residents can stay informed with a list of Capitol Police Services.
Law enforcement agencies in the capital, Maryland and Virginia also told News4 that they are monitoring what could be a number of convoys of truck drivers coming into the area.
The Los Angeles Times reported that another group, calling itself the “People’s Caravan,” began congregating in the Los Angeles area with the intention of traveling to the capital by early March.
Washington officials sent an alert to residents on Tuesday, saying the demonstrations could affect the metropolitan area “in the coming weeks,” but that no police permit application has been filed.
“There are multiple mitigation strategies in place and our agencies remain in regular contact with local, regional and federal partners,” the notice reads.
Authorities closed several avenues around the US Capitol this week in anticipation of possible protests and President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Tuesday.
Stay tuned with News4 for details on this evolving story.
Correction (Feb 23, 2022 at 10:52 a.m.): An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the trucker’s convoy would pass through Harrisonburg. He was scheduled to travel through Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.