Truckers and other demonstrators are heading to the DC area, here’s what to expect.
A large gathering of truck drivers and other demonstrators are expected to depart from a racetrack in Hagerstown, Maryland and head to the DC region Saturday.
The details of when the convoy will leave Hagerstown and move towards DC are unknown.
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 will not 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 locked them up, he answered, “the Democrats with the masks on the face.”
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, director of DC’s homeland security department, told WTOP.
“What we will not 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 they are doing that in complying with the law.”
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