California trucker ‘freedom convoy’ headed to DC disbands after one day when only five rigs reach second stop

·3 min read

A convoy of truckers who were heading from California to Washington DC for Joe Biden’s State of the Union (SOTU) address have been told to find another protest fleet after theirs fell apart before its first stop.

Organisers of the “US Freedom Convoy” - which had been expecting up to 2,000 truckers prior to its departure from Los Angeles on Friday - disbanded the caravan and cancelled all associated rallies on Saturday after only five rigs arrived in Las Vegas.

“To prevent another rally without our truckers - our team will not be moving thru Salt Lake City and Denver,” organisers wrote in an update following the disappointing turnout in Sin City.

Truckers were instead urged to join The People’s Convoy, a more than 100-strong force that departed California for the US capital the same day and has amassed nearly $1m in donations.

The caravans are among many so called “freedom convoys” that are travelling to Washington DC to rally on the National Mall on Tuesday against Mr Biden and his administration’s stance on Covid – among other criticisms of the right.

In a Facebook post, the American “freedom convoy” admitted “only five” trucks had arrived in Las Vegas, after setting out on the planned 10-stop journey from California.

That forced its organisers to call off the convoy, which appeared to be inspired by the Canadian “freedom convoy” that blockaded three border crossings between Canada and the US earlier this month.

The convoy was able to occupy downtown Ottawa for almost a month in opposition to Canada’s Covid mandates before federal law enforcement were called in to end the stand off.

The ‘freedom convoy’ in California last week (Getty Images)
The ‘freedom convoy’ in California last week (Getty Images)

The US “freedom convoy” organisers, who were allegedly accepting refunds from those who had donated to their cause, said “to prevent another rally without our truckers— our team will not be moving thru SLC and Denver”.

“There is a much larger convoy called The Peoples Convoy, that will near the Kansas and St Louis routes we had planned previously by the morning of February 28th,” the post continued.

“We are focusing on our goal of unity. Follow them! We appreciate everyone who donated towards the truckers”.

The news caused a mixed reaction among followers and members of the “freedom convoy”, as The New York Times reported, with one writing on Facebook that they were “pretty hurt by all this”.

“I spent days trying to coordinate a rally in support of our truckers,” wrote one Facebook user. “I have three tiny kids and work a full-time job and stretched myself thin then made myself look so stupid. I’m pretty hurt by all this.

Another argued: “I think all of the convoys merging together will have a much bigger impact than several smaller convoys. The bigger, the better”.

While the Californian convoy was forced to disband more than 36 hours drive away from the US Capitol, the so called “people’s convoy” has seen more success in attracting recruits.

It does however remain unclear how many truckers will turn up on Tuesday.

The Pentagon has already approved 7,000 National Guard troops for Tuesday, when Mr Biden will be speaking from the House chamber.

Capitol police are also working to to “prevent any disruption to the important work of Congress,” US Capitol police chief Tom Manger said last week.

Reuters reported that fencing has also been installed around the Capitol – in light of the disruption caused by Canada’s “freedom convoy” and 6 January 2021’s riot.