Convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates does beltway circuit
HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A large group of truck drivers who object to COVID-19 mandates drove two loops around the beltway surrounding Washington, Sunday, deliberately moving slowly to impact traffic and make their feelings known to lawmakers in the nation’s capitol.
People crowded onto overpasses, waving at the “People’s Convoy” and holding signs and American flags. Within the convoy, there were tractor-trailers with horns blaring and some recreational vehicles and pickup trucks occasionally going by, mixed with the normal traffic on Interstate 495 in Silver Springs, Maryland.
The convoy was moving normally — albeit slowly — and while some congestion was noted, news outlets reported traffic was able to flow around the convoy. Many vehicles had American flags, while some flew Don’t Tread on Me banners.
“We’re not even sure we can call it a convoy any more because it’s so dispersed among routine traffic at this point,” Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller told The Washington Post.
Protesters staged at the Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland during the weekend before heading down a single lane of Interstate 81. Their plan was to drive onto the Capital Beltway, circle it twice and then return to Hagerstown.
The convoy follows similar demonstrations by truckers in Canada who are upset at vaccine requirements to cross the Canadian border. The Washington Post also reported that convoy organizer Brian Brase intends for protesters to travel on the beltway every day during the upcoming week until their demands are met.
A video posted on Twitter showed trucks passing under a large American flag hoisted in the air by two cranes. Supporters stood along a road waving as the drivers left the speedway.
Officials with state police in Maryland and Virginia have said they will monitor the activities.
Authorities in the District of Columbia said Sunday they are monitoring demonstration activity that is expected to begin disrupting travel on roadways in and around the region. The majority of the activity is expected to occur on the beltway. Travelers were advised to consider alternate modes of transportation.