HAGERSTOWN, Md. — After only a few days back in the D.C. region, the group of truckers protesting federal COVID mandates calling itself the People's Convoy has put an end to its protests. In a press release Friday, the convoy "declared victory" and said its leadership would begin transitioning from a national movement to one focused on growth at the state level.
"Any convoy and protest activity from this time forward is done on an individual basis and is not representing The People’s Convoy," the release said. "The People’s Convoy will remain active and will transition its focus on attending rallies and raising awareness at the state level."
The press release went on to say the convoy would be leaving within seven days. According to reporting by the Associated Press, the truckers were asked to leave by the Speedway's management Friday. There were reports of fights occurring at the Speedway, but according to Maryland State Police and the Washington County Sheriff's Office, police presence was requested but the exit was largely peaceful.
Though the People's Convoy's official statement cites "87 days" of protests, the truckers did not maintain a consistent presence in the D.C. area. The convoy first arrived at Hagerstown Speedway on March 3, after driving across the country from California.
"Convoy leadership engaged in numerous meetings with various legislators on Capitol Hill, while the convoy was circling the beltway raising awareness of The People’s Convoy objectives," Friday's press release said. "While engaged in these meetings it became evident that The People’s Convoy battle for freedom would be quite extensive."
After nearly a month of bunkering down at the Hagerstown Speedway and taking multiple protest trips around the Capital Beltway, a unanimous vote was held on March 28 to pack up and head back to California to protest 10 bills coming up for a vote in California which the convoy called "tyrannical."
"We've seen a whole country wake up and come together as we've traveled across," organizer Mike Landis said during a livestreamed rally. "We've had this whole track packed with people. We've seen truckers, doctors, lawyers, nurses, police officers, bankers, airline pilots, farmers - the people that make America go 'round - all come together and we're going to continue that."
The trucking protesters came back to Hagerstown on Tuesday, May 17. The convoy said its mission was the same as it was the last time it came to Hagerstown: pressuring federal leaders to end the national declaration of emergency concerning COVID-19. Some truckers added that it was really about personal freedoms being taken away calling mandates "the straw that broke the camel's back."
The embattled organization has not been without its dissenters. The week before the group returned to Hagerstown, the official Facebook page -- which is currently not accessible -- showed heated posts and comments arguing about what the convoy's mission should be about.
"How on earth do ya carry on fighting for the dumbest stuff?" posted one woman claiming to be the wife of a trucker who had originally supported the convoy's efforts. "My god the entire industry is on its knees because of so so many reasons and yall [sic] want to talk about masks!!!???"
Sixteen members of the People’s Convoy also filed suit against the District of Columbia claiming the local government violated their first amendment rights. The lawsuit claims that Metropolitan Police Department officers formed blockades around specific points of entry into the District to purposely stop the truckers from exercising their constitutionally protected right to free speech in the nation’s capital four times between March 14 and 18. They are demanding a jury trial.
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