US trucker convoy gathers for cross-country trip to protest Covid rules

A group of US truckers were due to embark on Wednesday on a 2,500 mile cross-country trip from California to Washington to protest against coronavirus restrictions.

The group, which is calling itself the “People’s Convoy”, is one of several starting from different parts of the country and due to start arriving in the US capital at various points through to late next week – all inspired by the demonstrations that recently paralyzed Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, for weeks.

Hundreds of troops have been approved to be deployed in Washington if needed, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

The group coming from California said it wanted to “jumpstart the economy” and reopen the US. It’s unclear how big the protest will be; organisers say they expect thousands will join them.

Some of the trucker groups are scheduled to arrive in time for Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next Tuesday, 1 March, with others arriving later.

The trip from California will take 11 days and the organizers say they should reach Washington on Saturday, 5 March “but will not be going into DC proper”, according to a statement by the group.

The Pentagon said on Tuesday it had approved 400 national guard troops from the District of Columbia, who would not carry weapons, to help at traffic posts from this Saturday through 7 March. About 50 large tactical vehicles were also approved to be placed at traffic posts.

In addition, up to 300 national guard troops from outside of Washington were approved to come to the city to assist at traffic posts if needed.

Brian Brase, a truck driver who is one of the organizers, said that, regardless of where the trucks stop, “we’re not going anywhere” until the group’s demands are met. Those demands include an end to Covid-19 vaccine and mask requirements.

Most US states are already easing some restrictions. In California universal mask requirements were lifted last week while masks for vaccinated people are required only in high-risk areas…

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