“Looks like we gotta convoyyyyyyyyyyyy”
Massive Nationwide Convoy to D.C. For COVID-19 Protest Set to Travel Through East Idaho
Thousands of semi-truck drivers next week will travel to the nation’s capital as part of a massive convoy to protest what many are describing as government overreach when it comes to restrictions put in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Participants in the nationwide American Freedom Convoy are set to depart from numerous staging points established along interstates 70, 80, 84, 90 and 94 on March 1 and March 2, and at least two groups associated with the convoy will travel through the Gem State before reaching Washington, D.C., on March 7, according to Derek Depauw, a North Dakota-based trucker and route coordinator for the event.
“There are a number of different convoys that have either left or are getting ready to head out to D.C. as we speak, but ours is called the American Freedom Convoy,” Depauw said. “This is a nationwide convoy that originally started out in the Midwest but has grown significantly over the last couple weeks.”
It was one of several U.S. convoys organized online and modeled on the recent Canadian truckers’ protests that shut down U.S.-Canadian border crossings and besieged the streets of the capital, Ottawa, for weeks. The convoys all have different starting points, departure dates and routes.
Depauw stressed the intention of the American Freedom Convoy is to protest the nation’s COVID-19 mandates and restrictions in a 100 percent positive and peaceful manner.
“The majority of the country wants to get back to life as it was before the pandemic,” Depauw said. “We don’t like the idea of the government having as much overreach over the people as it has portrayed over the last few years. We want to ensure that the government will never have the authority to perform such overreach like this ever again.”
Vaccine and mask mandates are the most problematic examples of the government infringing on the rights of Americans, Depauw added.
“The American people want to have their freedom to choose what gets put into their bodies,” Depauw said. “All medical decisions should never involve anyone but the person and their professional medical provider. We want to get all of these mandates abolished and rescind the state of emergency that we are currently in.”
Depauw said he would be surprised to see less than 30,000 semi-trucks arrive in the D.C. area around March 7 as part of the American Freedom Convoy, adding that he estimates the total number of people involved with the protest, including those traveling with other convoys and those arriving in personal vehicles, could surpass one million.
“I could be way off on those numbers because there could be driver’s that have not even registered for the event yet,” Depauw said. “This event isn’t just for semi-trucks, though, literally anybody can join us.”
For Southeast Idaho residents, a group is expected to depart from Boise at 12 p.m. on March 2 on Interstate 84. The convoy will travel through the Treasure and Magic valleys before heading toward Ogden, Utah, and linking up with Interstate 80 near Echo, Utah. That group will travel along Interstate 80 until reaching south Peoria, Illinois., Depauw said.
For residents living in the northern part of the state, a group of semi-truck drivers will begin heading East on Interstate 90 from Spokane at 8:30 a.m. on March 2, Depauw said. That route will continue along Interstate 90 through Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Minnesota before merging with another convoy traveling along Interstate 94 near Oakdale, Wisconsin, according to Depauw.
Another group traveling along Interstate 70 will converge with the convoy in Indianapolis, and from there the entire convoy will head over to Pennsylvania, then south to West Virginia and East into Maryland.
Further, Depauw admits that the convoy will likely exacerbate the country’s existing supply chain issues, which has played a significant role in the nation’s rising inflation.
“I’d be lying if I said this protest wasn’t going to affect the supply chain more than it already is,” Depauw said. “We do understand that this could slow the process down a little bit more. There are over two million semi-trucks on the road in the U.S. today and so the 30,000 to 50,000 semi-trucks participating in this convoy is a pretty-decent-sized dent.”
Depauw said the convoy also has its sights set on making a point ahead of the 2022 midterm election.
“Whether it be the fact that midterms are coming up or the people in D.C. know that a convoy is coming their way and they don’t want it to end up like Canada, but things are changing,” Depauw said. “They have dropped all mask mandates in D.C. as of Feb. 28 whereas before you couldn’t move around that city at all without being double vaccinated.”
Though the American Freedom Convoy intends to arrive in D.C. on March 7, other convoys are expected to arrive at the nation’s capital ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address.
The Pentagon has approved the deployment of 700 unarmed National Guard troops to the nation’s capital as it prepares for multiple trucker convoys. The troops would be used to assist with traffic control during demonstrations expected in the city in the coming days, the Pentagon said.
The protest comes as average daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are continuing to fall in the U.S., an indicator that the omicron variant’s hold is weakening across the country, and mandates are being loosened or lifted.
Anyone interested in joining the convoy is encouraged to visit the group’s Facebook page and request to join the private group, Depauw said.