Capitol Police Board issues emergency declaration as protest convoy reaches D.C. area

Capitol Police Board issues emergency declaration as protest convoy reaches D.C. area
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

The People’s Convoy arrived in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. The truck convoy is an American version of the Canadian truck convoy earlier this year. Both were formed to protest government COVID-19 mandates. Sunday the convoy took slow laps around the Beltway, the 64-mile highway that encircles the city, some honking horns. The truckers plan to do the same today. The Capitol Police Board issued an emergency declaration which allows the National Guard to help the Capitol Police Department.

The convoy originated in California and originally it was reported that the arrival date in D.C. was supposed to be March 1, in time for Biden’s first State of the Union address. Then the date of arrival shifted to March 5. The U.S. Capitol Police Department went on alert and began closing streets around Capitol Hill. Temporary fencing went up, too, around the Capitol as extra protection. If the National Guard is needed, it will be an opportunity to test the new activation process put in place after the January 6 riot.

The emergency declaration allows payment for officers’ hotel and food costs in addition to the extra help provided to USCP. House Sergeant at Arms William Walker announced that the emergency declaration has been issued.

“The Capitol Police Board has issued an emergency declaration to ensure that the US Capitol police are able to operate and respond as necessary,” Walker wrote in a letter, advising Congress members and their staffers to take an alternate path via public transit to work or to consider working remotely, CNN reported.

The protesters gathered at the Hagerstown Speedway, a racetrack in Maryland about 80 miles northwest of downtown Washington, on Friday and Saturday. The number of trucks in the convoy grew as it traveled through states in route to D.C. The convoy stretches about two miles and it slowly lapped around the Beltway on Sunday. The intention was not to shut down traffic but to slow it. Maryland police released a warning on Sunday to drivers to plan ahead for heavy traffic.

One man who called himself a founder of the convoy said he would lead the convoy to the White House. That didn’t happen on Sunday.

“DC, the government, whomever, can claim that they have all this opposition for us waiting in DC,” the man said. “But that flag on the back of my truck will go down to Constitution Avenue between the White House and the Washington Monument.”

Leaders in the convoy said they will again slowly drive around the Beltway today.

So far this is all much ado about nothing. The members of the convoy have a right to protest COVID-19 mandates but how logical is it to do it now? This protest should have been done a year ago for maximum impact and public support. As it is now, the convoy is not getting much publicity because it is overshadowed by the Russian invasion into Ukraine. The main reason it is not going to have much impact is because most of the COVID-19 mandates have been lifted, or very soon will be. The participants may want America’s attention to be focused on their convoy in the U.S. capitol city but Americans are focused on the capitol of Ukraine. Timing is everything.

Even in D.C., COVID-19 mandates have loosened. As of March 1, mask mandates in restaurants, bars, and gyms were lifted. The CDC dropped its mask mandate guidance for areas with low COVID-19 outbreaks. The Biden administration continues to lose legal challenges to its vaccine mandates. The last remaining holdouts on mandates in many cities and areas of the country are on young, unvaccinated children, the least likely to be infected or to become seriously ill from the virus. Perhaps the convoy will highlight that abusive treatment of young children.

The truckers have been peaceful and aren’t looking to storm Capitol Hill. The temporary fencing put up is overkill, meant to be a bit of theatre to remind people of the January 6 riot. The truckers say they just want to bring attention to governmental overreach during the pandemic and the intrusion on personal freedoms, including the privacy of personal medical decisions. So, they will slow up the traffic flow around the Beltway and honk their horns while everyday commuters are stuck in traffic.

As long as they don’t block traffic and slow first responders on public roads, let them have their protest. It likely won’t last long without international coverage like the Canadian truckers received. This isn’t March 2020 or even March 2021. Draconian measures are ending, the tide has already turned.

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