Police in the District will soon deploy civil disturbance units in preparation for the possible trucker convoys that could cause gridlocks like the major blockades in Canada.
Among the organizers is Bob Bolus, a trucking company owner in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who planned on starting his convoy to D.C. on Wednesday morning.
He stressed to WUSA9 the plans to keep the demonstration peaceful, but Bolus expressed the major disruption the series of trucks could cause on the Capital Beltway, although the exact number of participants is unclear.
“We’re not coming there just to starve them,” Bolus said. “We’re going to choke you like a boa constrictor and you’ll have nothing.”
Bolus listed a variety of issues he wanted to protest including vaccine mandates, trucker rights, increased fuel prices and taxes, and critical race theory.
His disdain for President Joe Biden seems to be a major factor.
“We’re leaving lanes open for emergency vehicles, and we’re sending a message to the people in D.C. that you voted for these people,” he said.
Homeland Security officials have not dismissed the possibility of a convoy coming to the District, even though one failed to materialize at the Super Bowl in Los Angeles.
U.S. Capitol Police released a statement last week saying the department is aware of the plans for convoys to arrive around the State of the Union on March 1.
“The United States Capitol Police and the United States Secret Service have been closely working together to plan for the upcoming State of the Union,” the statement read. “The temporary inner-perimeter fence is part of those ongoing discussions and remains an option, however at this time no decision has been made.”
Truckers like Jonie Smith and her husband are still choosing to join the convoy in protest against any mandates, despite the couple being vaccinated.
They have released plans to collect food and supplies for drivers planning to travel to D.C.
“So we’re not all converging on businesses demanding food at the same time,” Smith said. “You don’t want 20 or 30 trucks trying to pull into Walmart to get groceries. It’s to try to keep everyone moving and fed along the way.”
Smith planned on pick-up times to collect food in West Virginia and Virginia later this week. They will use their refrigerated trailer to help with the delivery.
From her perspective, the convoy she plans to join will remain peaceful and will not shut down roads.
“We have no intentions of shutting anything down, but will there be an inconvenience? Of course,” Smith added.
Kyle Sefcik is another organizer planning his own rally next week, called Freedom Convoy USA 2022.
According to Sefcik, the convoy of trucks and motorcycles will begin in Los Angeles this upcoming Friday before making its way through the Midwest and arriving in DC in time for President Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1.
“We want to be there for that and tell the president we’re here,” Sefcik said during an interview with WUSA9 on Monday. “This doesn’t even need to happen. If the president said, ‘Mandates are over and the state of emergency is over. Let’s get back to the world and let’s do our thing,’ then we’re not even coming.”
Sefcik stressed that his convoy will remain peaceful and is not planning on gathering at the Capitol.
Instead, he said trucks and motorcycles will stop near the White House while Christian bands and pastors speak along the National Mall near the Washington Monument.
So far, he has around 38,000 people signed up for the convoy.
“We have to get the attention in the most peaceful way and this is our way of doing it,” Sefcik said. “Do we want to stop businesses from being able to be open and people being able to get to work and school? No. We don’t want to cause this at all which is why we’re telling the president ahead of time to end this now. We don’t even have to come.”
Sefcik warned that the large swarm of trucks could disrupt traffic around the District and lead to long delays getting to work or school.
“This could stop work until the president says it’s over. People could not be going to schools,” he said. “We’re going to go until the president of the United States says the state of emergency is over.”
Sefcik said the motivation to hold the convoy comes from personal experiences.
As a gym owner in Maryland, his business was directly impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and was almost forced to close. With his two children also required to wear masks while in the classroom, he decided to home school them instead.
“I had people and the government and the school systems telling me that my children had to put something over their nose and mouth that I didn’t want to have over their nose and mouth,” Sefcik said. “I just want to be able to choose what I do with my own body and the bodies of my children. That’s all this is about.”
In a statement to WUSA9, Maryland State Police said it is aware of potential protests planned by truck drivers in and around the Maryland National Capital Region.
“While monitoring the situation throughout the country, Maryland State Troopers from the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, the Automotive Safety Enforcement Division, and barracks around the region are working with federal, state, and local agencies to monitor developments,” the statement read. “State police are coordinating with public safety partners in neighboring states and will be ready to respond appropriately with adequate resources to ensure the free flow of traffic throughout the routes of travel.”
Virginia State Police released a similar statement saying the department is monitoring the situation.