'I'm not a babysitter': People's Convoy ejected from Hagerstown Speedway after disbanding

·4 min read

The People's Convoy protesting government COVID mandates and other grievances disbanded and was ejected from the Hagerstown Speedway on Friday, two days after it returned.

Speedway General Manager Lisa Plessinger said she asked the group to leave because of infighting over what to do next among the 100 or so people remaining after the organization officially shut down Friday afternoon.

"I'm not a babysitter. I didn't sign up for that," Plessinger said, "so when they got to acting like a bunch of kids it was time for them to go home.

"Just like with any unruly child, you only put up with so many temper tantrums before you say, 'Enough. Put them in time out.' So that's what I did."

The remnants of the group vacated the facility peacefully by 10 p.m. Friday, she said.

A message on a t-shirt helps set the tone for a rally at the return of The People's Convoy at the Hagerstown Speedway Wednesday evening.
A message on a t-shirt helps set the tone for a rally at the return of The People's Convoy at the Hagerstown Speedway Wednesday evening.

The convoy began rolling into the speedway on March 3 and initially filled its main parking area before the facility opened for the racing season. Then, Plessinger allowed them to occupy a roughly equal-sized space at the other side of the speedway that wasn't needed just yet.

The speedway became a staging area for near daily trips by a parade of big rigs, cars and campers to protest in the Washington, D.C., area until Plessinger needed the entire facility to accommodate racing events.

Convoy organizer Mike Landis then announced on March 27 that the group would head to California to protest COVID-control measures pending in that state's legislature, and hinted that the group might come back "to finish this job."

The noticeably smaller group returned Wednesday.

Steve and Krista Peiffer of Hedgesville, W.Va., fly an American flag Wednesday evening during the return of The People's Convoy at the Hagerstown Speedway. The two were listening to speeches at a 6 p.m. rally.
Steve and Krista Peiffer of Hedgesville, W.Va., fly an American flag Wednesday evening during the return of The People's Convoy at the Hagerstown Speedway. The two were listening to speeches at a 6 p.m. rally.

Everything was fine until the organization officially disbanded and there was no clear leadership to work with, according to Plessinger.

"I want one convoy, one leader, one person that I have to deal with," she said. "I don't want to deal with a dozen. I don't have time for that."

Plessinger had supported the larger group's right to protest and figured it wouldn't be a problem for them to use the facility.

"Initially they were just to be there one day, one night, and it just turned into ... like when your mother-in-law comes to visit and decides to stay," she said.

Earlier: 'Something is very wrong': Peoples' Convoy returns to Hagerstown Speedway to resume fight

More: The People's Convoy is going to California after staying in Hagerstown for almost a month

More: Ted Cruz joins the People's Convoy on Thursday

More: Protest convoys to converge near Hagerstown for last leg of journey to Washington, D.C.

The People's Convoy official website, thepeoplesconvoy.org, could not be found Saturday morning.

A posting on its Facebook page reads that, "As of 2:30pm EST today May 20, 2022, The People's Convoy declares victory and announces its conclusion of the national convoy portion of this great movement. Any convoy and protest activity from this time forward is done on an individual basis and is not representing The People's Convoy."

The posting said the convoy would remain active and transition to "attending rallies and raising awareness at the state level. We encourage everyone to participate and become actively involved in The People's Convoy state groups while leadership transitions National from a rolling convoy and focuses on growth within the movement."

The posting also states that, "Any future events will be announced on our social media platforms and our soon to be published website thepeoplesconvoy.com."

The People's Convoy departs the Hagerstown Speedway for Washington D.C. on Thursday, March 10.
The People's Convoy departs the Hagerstown Speedway for Washington D.C. on Thursday, March 10.

During its earlier stay in Hagerstown, the convoy used the racetrack to park vehicles and camp while a contingent from the group traveled almost daily to the Washington, D.C. beltway. There, the vehicles would do laps around the beltway.

The group attempted a few times to head into Washington, D.C., proper, but traffic was blocked by police departments in Virginia and in the city, according to media reports.

Some members of the group met with Republican members of Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who came to Washington County to lead the convoy March 10.

While the group outwardly appeared to be a largely conservative crowd that included supporters of former President Donald Trump, organizers said earlier that participants came from all belief systems and walks of life, including Biden supporters and people who were vaccinated and wearing masks.

Speakers at convoy meetings and rallies as well as participants themselves repeatedly stated that they are trying to get the message to government officials that they oppose mandates.

Those gatherings often ended with the crowd chanting in unison that those officials must remember "that they work for us."

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: People's Convoy disbands, remnants told to leave Hagerstown Speedway