Leader of trucker convoy arrested on DC’s National Mall

The leader of the 1776 Restoration Movement trucker convoy was arrested Wednesday in D.C. on charges of impeding traffic and disobeying a police order on the Fourth of July.

Fifty-seven-year-old David Riddell — known within the convoy as “Santa” — was taken into custody by D.C. police on a Maryland arrest warrant Wednesday morning, two days after groups of truckers drove slowly and snarled traffic on Interstate 270 and the Capital Beltway in Montgomery County.

David Riddell, de facto leader of the 1776 Restoration Movement, is arrested in Washington, D.C. on July 6, 2022. (Courtesy Kyle Anderson)

A spokesperson for the Maryland State Police confirmed Riddell was charged with disturbing peace/hindering passage, disorderly conduct and failure to obey a lawful order. He will be transferred to Maryland following his arrest on the National Mall.

On Monday, state troopers were called to southbound I-270 in Gaithersburg “for the report of several truckers stopping traffic and failing to obey a lawful order to open up the travel portions of the highway,” MSP said in a statement. The agency said it sought an arrest warrant for Riddell following the convoy’s dispersal that day.

In the hours before sunrise Wednesday, several dozen truckers, including Riddell, made the drive into D.C. and parked along both sides of Madison Drive, near the National Museum of American History.

Livestreams from participants later showed D.C. officers approaching Riddell in front of a yellow fire truck often driven as part of the convoy.

Kyle Anderson, a photojournalist who captured Riddell’s arrest, told WTOP that officers had asked to speak with him privately before moving to arrest him.

“Riddell told the other convoy members it was fine and walked with an officer for about a minute. Riddell then peacefully put his hands behind his back and was handcuffed,” Anderson said.

“He didn’t speak or say anything at all, though once I started taking pictures, a few of the other convoy members started running over to see what was going on. Those people repeatedly demanded to know why he was under arrest, and insisted that he did not break any laws.”

The 1776 Restoration Movement is an offshoot of The People’s Convoy, a group that came together earlier this year to protest pandemic restrictions and other grievances after similar protests and blockades in Canada.

The convoy’s original organizers announced its dissolution before the group’s eviction from the Hagerstown Speedway in mid May, following two months of slow roving on the region’s roadways. Riddell has helmed a continuation of the convoy under the name 1776 Restoration Movement, now based in West Virginia.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital journalist and editor in June 2018. He is a reporter and photographer focusing on politics, political activism and international affairs.

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