An American truckers’ rally inspired by the self-styled “Freedom Convoy” in Canada fell short of its goal to stifle traffic in the US capital for a second day in a row on Monday.
Plans by the “People’s Convoy” were marred by broken-down trucks as vehicles got separated on a Washington DC highway.
Hundreds of trucks, cars and SUVs had gathered on the highway to protest against the government’s response to coronavirus and the subsequent vaccination mandates.
But the convoy’s promise to be a “huge pain” for the DC metro area fell flat after it took a single lap around I-495 – commonly called the Beltway – which encircles Washington DC on Monday afternoon, and did not cause slowdown.
The truckers and a group of vehicles with upside-down American flags ended up lost amid the highway’s substantial traffic. Besides, some semi-trucks and pickup vehicles also broke down, adding to the organisers’ misery.
A white pickup truck’s hood flipped open on the Greenbelt area in the afternoon and some of the vehicles broke down near the Temple Hills and Landover exits, according to The Daily Beast.
The group’s goals are unclear. Organisers have said they want an end to the national emergency enacted shortly after the coronavirus hit the US, as well as the lifting of mask and vaccine mandates.
However, as almost every state has rolled back or plans to lift their masking requirements and the federal government has lifted its own, the group’s aims appear to have shifted to a general protest of the Joe Biden administration.
The “People’s Convoy” hit the highway after starting from its base at the Hagerstown Speedway on Route 40 and reached interstates 81 to 70, then to I-270 before they merged onto the Beltway. The convoy with 130 large trucks and hundreds of smaller vehicles took 25 minutes to pass.
The convoy did not cause any major slowdowns for other travellers, who continued to move in and out of the rally.
On Sunday, the convoy drove a lap around the 64-mile Beltway though some ended up lost amid the highway’s substantial traffic.
Organiser Brian Brase had vowed to “escalate” the group’s offensive and called on truckers to take up the entire two lanes of Beltway after Sunday's short-lived rally.
The organisers remain optimistic and said they will “hold the line”.
Mr Brase told The Washington Post that they do not plan to take the protest beyond the highway and enter the capital.
“A lot of people want me to say certain things and put this convoy into a certain direction,” Mr Brase said on Monday during his meeting with drivers. “I’m not going to listen to all of them. I’m going to listen to the people.”
DC Police officials are monitoring the convoy, police chief Robert J Contee III told reporters on Monday.
The protesters have said they will loop the Beltway twice every week until demands are met as they continue to raise funds to keep up the momentum of the rally.
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