US shutdown: Truckers to clog Washington's Beltway in 3-day protest against 'lawlessness' of members of Congress

The protest was first announced in mid-September, before the beginning of the ongoing government shutdown

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As if Washington DC wasn’t sufficiently immobile already, a group of truck drivers plans to snarl up traffic on the US capital’s “Beltway” ring road for three days this weekend, in protest at the “lawlessness” of members of Congress, whom they claim “refuse to work on behalf of the American people.”

The Tea Party-inspired organisers of the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” say they are expecting some 3,000 truckers to descend on DC, to clog up three lanes of Interstate 495 by driving in convoy at a sedate 55mph. The protest was first announced in mid-September, before the beginning of the ongoing government shutdown.

Organisers are inviting other motorists to show their support for the so-called “general strike”, and will allow them to drive past if they display in their cars the acronym T2SDA, or “Truckers to Shutdown America”, the original name of the group. A Facebook page with that title had 86,000 likes before it was removed. The group’s Twitter account was also suspended, though a new Facebook page, “Truckers Ride for the Constitution”, had 60,000 likes as of today.

In a press release, organisers wrote: “It has become apparent that our elected officials will never respond to the will of the people as long as their greed wealth is not jeopardised. The only thing that motivates every politician is their money – cutting off their money-flow cuts off their life-blood. The Independent Truckers in the US keep commerce flowing for benefit of the central government.”

Earl Conlon, a trucker from Georgia, told US News & World Report the group would seek the arrest of members of Congress that it saw as responsible for the shutdown, including Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrat minority in the House of Representatives, and Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein. The group later distanced itself from Mr Conlon.

On its website, however, it does identify “domestic enemies” including President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and former Republican Presidential candidate Senator John McCain. Speaking to Fox News, spokesman Peter Santilli said: “One of our demands is non-negotiable, President Obama must be removed from office for crimes against the United States and all unconstitutional executive orders nullified. How that is accomplished legally is for the legal and constitutional experts to determine.”

The group’s grievances include low wages, high fuel prices and over-regulation. They also cite concerns the US government, by supplying arms to Syria’s opposition, “now support[s] al-Qaida”.