Trucker convoy not heading to DC on Saturday

A large gathering of truck drivers and other demonstrators are expected to stay at a racetrack in Hagerstown, Maryland, Saturday night.

According to WTOP news partner NBC Washington, a spokesperson for the convoy said Saturday that “The plan is stay in Hagerstown tonight. I’m getting more details on the rollout tomorrow and can let you know as soon as I hear the plan.”

Gathering of the “People’s Convoy” and supporters in Hagerstown, Md.

It’s not clear what kind of impact it’ll have on traffic, particularly on the beltway where most of the driving is expected to take place. Reports ahead of time suggest the convoy, perhaps hundreds deep, will drive freely without trying to stall out or stop traffic.

The truckers protesting have said they won’t enter the city, but will circle around it.

Why are they protesting?

“I’m protesting because the Democrats are really bad and they have us locked up and we’re American people and we know what’s good for us,” one protester who had gathered in Hagerstown told our partner at NBC4.

When asked who had them locked up, he answered, “the Democrats with the masks on the face.”

Gathering of the “People’s Convoy” and supporters in Hagerstown, Md.

Most mask mandates and other COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted in recent weeks.

Law enforcement agencies from around the region have been preparing for the demonstrations, and have allocated additional resources to ensure safety.

“In addition to road patrol troopers, troopers from our Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division and Automotive Safety Enforcement Division are prepared to assist public safety partners in Maryland and neighboring states to address any violations of law and maintain the free flow of traffic,” said Maryland State Police spokeswoman Elena Russo.

Russo also warned about the potential for misinformation or disinformation related to these protests.

In the District, city leaders said they oversee First Amendment protected speeches and demonstrations frequently and are prepared if some of the truck drivers and their supporters go into the city.

“We have hundreds of First Amendment events every year and we respect the right of anyone to come to the nation’s capital and express those rights,” Chris Rodriguez, the director of D.C.’s homeland security department, told WTOP.

“What we won’t tolerate is violence – a flouting of our laws.”

That means while anyone is welcome to drive in and speak their minds, “[we] are putting the safety and security of our residents and businesses as our number one priority,” Rodriguez said.

The goal will then be to make “sure that the convoys have as minimal impact to people’s daily lives and their ability to move freely as possible.”

“For a lot of these truckers that are coming,” added Rodriguez, ” he safe and secure use of their vehicles is a condition of their CDL license and so they need to make sure that they are doing that in complying with the law.”

Convoy supporters speak up

People traveled from Pennsylvania, western Maryland and even Michigan to show their support for the People’s Convoy at their staging area at the Hagerstown Speedway.

“This is probably the best thing to happen in the United States in two years,” said Melissa Ramhoff, from Frostburg, Maryland.

Ramhoff went on to say that “We need our freedoms back. We’re done,” referencing the remaining mask and vaccine mandates, and added that “We need a new president. We need a better president.”

Gathering of the “People’s Convoy” and supporters in Hagerstown, Md.

Ruth Anne Bowles from Blue Knob, Pennsylvania — about 90 minutes outside of Hagerstown — said she was waving a flag as the convoy drove into Hagerstown from I-70 on Friday. WTOP caught up with her at the racetrack in Hagerstown.

“It’s just been a great atmosphere,” Bowles said. “It’s been very encouraging to see other people who love our country and want our freedom to remain.”

Bowles said that, outside of the general sentiment of ending COVID-related mandates, she saw signs supporting “pro life, pro military [and] pro Trump” positions.

John Deitzel from York, Pennsylvania, said he supports the convoy because he doesn’t want a select group of people making medical decisions for everyone else.

Gathering of the “People’s Convoy” and supporters in Hagerstown, Md.

Beverly Allen drove all the way from Michigan to support the convoy, and commented how “It’s absolutely breathtaking to see everybody congregate together.”

“I hope people wake up, and start to realize that we do have a corrupt government out there right now and that we need help to fight for our freedoms,” Allen said.

WTOP’s Valerie Bonk contributed to this report.

Matthew Delaney

Matt Delaney is a digital web writer/editor who joined WTOP in 2020.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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