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What's in a Convoy: How a lack of coherent leadership is causing fractures and factions in the large trucker protest

The absence of daily communications from the most vocal leaders behind the convoy has left a myriad of opinions on what's next, including where to park their rigs.

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from March 16 when a trucker convoy entered the D.C. Beltway. 

Over the last 27 days, much has been said about the convoy of truckers and supporters who arrived at Hagerstown Speedway after traveling across the country to protest COVID-19 mandates. A lot of that dialogue has come from truckers themselves as they live stream on YouTube from their morning meetings and their dashboards.

Now, it seems, the message is less unified than ever, and the ideas on what's next for these thus-far peaceful protesters are becoming more extreme.

Over the weekend, vocal leader and People's Convoy organizer Brian Brase told the participants that he was taking a leave of absence to Ohio to spend time with family and bring his truck back to continue the convoy's protests. He did not specify how many days he would be absent.

The narrative has continued its back and forth on whether the convoy is making an impact, as their influence seemingly peaked when they met with U.S. senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson earlier this month. In recent days, videos showing cyclists and pedestrians blocking the convoy's attempts to traverse D.C. freely have shown the resolve of D.C. residents, especially those used to heavy traffic.

Daily streamers such as Sasnak, whose name is Stan, and OTR Survival, whose name is John Bigard, posted less frequently to start the week and had little information on the direction of the convoy as of Tuesday. Both did, however, make claims that an illness has affected a number of convoy participants, but do not believe the illness, described as respiratory and sinus viruses on live streams, to be COVID-19 related.

    

Bigard posted a video claiming he had gone to an urgent care for symptoms that made him feel as though he had been, "hit by a bus." He did say that he was hoping a regiment of antibiotics and steroids would get him back on his feet and behind the wheel soon.

The rhetoric from Ron Coleman, another vocal leader of the convoy, took a sharp turn Monday. Coleman claimed that Metro Police were conducting illegal activities by blocking highway exit ramps to filter the protest and prevent the convoy from moving into downtown as a large group. He also claimed some convoy members intend to make citizens' arrests on officers and highway drivers causing dangerous road conditions.

In a video posted Tuesday afternoon responding to his own original comments, Coleman clarified that the idea of citizens arrests was posed as a question regarding the constitutionality of the road blockades by MPD, and is not a goal of the convoy.

Video also circulated on Reddit showing a number of semi-trucks boxing in a Tesla on the Beltway, although Maryland State Police told WUSA9 that, contrary to other published reports, the incident did not amount to an attempted abduction.

Early Tuesday morning, emotions at the speedway came to a head when a live stream by First Responders Media showed a convoy participant on the microphone making false claims and a number of spectators approaching him and threatening him with violence over "attempts to misinform and divide us."

Confusion mounted as a Thursday deadline to leave Hagerstown Speedway loomed, increasing the need to find a new venue to house the truckers' large space requirements. However, by Monday night, leaders spoke to the convoy in Hagerstown and said they negotiated with speedway officials to stay another week.

Requests for comment from the daily live streamers, MPD, and Hagerstown Speedway officials have not been returned to WUSA9.

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