Washington DC shrugs and few notice as small trucker convoy circles city

Bid to ensnarl DC traffic largely turns into photo op for supporters

DC trucker protest organiser plans 'giant boa constrictor'

A bizarre scene played out along the Beltway highway encircling Washington DC on Sunday, as a small group of demonstrators angry about the Covid-19 vaccine and public health rules put in place to fight the novel coronavirus drove around the city, occasionally honking at gathered supporters.

What initially worried some last week as demonstrators gathered in Hagerstown, Maryland, turned out to be little more than an unnoticeable bump in the already sizable number of large trucks and smaller vehicles that take the DC Beltway every day.

Indeed, their protest on Sunday did not appear to meet its goal of slowing down traffic at all; a video of the group passing a pedestrian bridge where supporters had gathered showed the trucks moving at considerable speed down the highway.

Sunday is typically the lightest day of the week, in terms of traffic, for the Washington Beltway, which in general is largely used by commuters coming from Maryland and Virginia as well as vehicles traveling up or down Interstate 95; most DC residents rarely have the opportunity – or misfortune – to take the highway during the week.

Even so, the highway is often slowed to a crawl due to vehicular accidents and construction work during the week and as a result many questioned whether the trucker convoy would make a difference or even fall victim to the Beltway’s delays themselves.

Reporters who spoke with the group’s organisers over the weekend indicated that the group’s plans were to circle the city twice before returning to Hagerstown. The group may attempt the same protest on Monday, when traffic is heavier, but it’s unclear if they plan to try it during rush hour.

It’s unclear how long the assembled truckers and smaller vehicle occupants will be able to maintain this particular demonstration, which could end up being much costlier than efforts to park vehicles in a way that obstructs traffic, due to fuel costs which are surging amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It was also not clear what specific pandemic-related restrictions the group is protesting. One reporter who spoke with convoy organiser Brian Brase described the group’s demands as “unspecified” after an interview, and the group has not been forthcoming with the specific examples of rules they oppose. Washington DC, in particular, saw the last of its vaccine and mask restrictions, other than those put in place by private businesses, in city-owned buildings and public transport, end at the beginning of March.

President Joe Biden’s vaccination mandate for companies with more than 100 employees was also abandoned after it faced a court challenge.

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