National Guard to Help D.C. Manage Possible Trucker Protests

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — The Pentagon has approved the deployment of 700 unarmed National Guard troops to the nation’s capital as it prepares for trucker convoys that are planning protests against pandemic restrictions beginning next week.

According to the Pentagon, Lloyd Austin, Defense Secretary of Defence approved Tuesday’s request from the District of Columbia government as well as the U.S. Capitol Police.

According to the Pentagon, these troops will be deployed in support of traffic control in cities where demonstrations are expected over the next few days. According to the statement, 300 Guard members of other states will join the four hundred Guards members of the District of Columbia Guard.
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Guard members will not carry firearms or take part in law enforcement or domestic-surveillance activities, the Pentagon said.

Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund — all with different starting points, departure dates and routes. Some are scheduled to arrive in time for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1, though others may arrive afterward.

The convoys follow the recent Canadian truckers’ protest which shut down the busiest U.S. Canadian border crossing and besieged the streets of the capital, Ottawa, for weeks to protest government pandemic restrictions. With more than 100 arrests, police broke up the multiple blocksades.

It remains to be seen if any of the U.S. convoys would seek to actively shut down Washington’s streets, the way their Canadian counterparts did in Ottawa. Some officials have indicated that convoy organizers plan to roll briefly through Washington, and then concentrate on closing down the Beltway. This encircles capital.

A statement from the People’s Convoy specifically says the trucks “will NOT be going into DC proper.” That convoy is planning to embark Wednesday from southern California and arrive in D.C. around March 5.

American convoys demand the immediate removal of heavy-handed restrictions on government pandemics like vaccine mandates and mask mandates. The American Truckers Freedom Fund website says the group is protesting “the unscientific, unconstitutional overreach of the federal government.”

The effectiveness of vaccines in stopping COVID-19 has been remarkable. This is especially true for serious diseases like death and severe illness. High-quality masks also offer protection from the spread or transmission of the disease. The pandemic is entering its third year and the public sentiment has changed, particularly among conservatives.

People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis, in a video testimonial on the group’s website, said the current COVID vaccine “is not proven yet” but supported individual choice on whether to take it or not. Landis claimed that all vehicles are welcome to join the convoy and stated the principal goal was to force Biden to end the national state emergency.

“We want this government to bring back the Constitution,” Landis said. “We do not want to be under a dictatorship communism-style regime, like where we are right now.”

Donald Trump declared an emergency state in the United States in March 2020. Biden last week announced that he would extend the state of emergency beyond March 1, 2020.

Sites organizing American trucker convoys directly refer to the Canadian inspired movement. A statement on the People’s Convoy website pays homage to “our brave and courageous neighbors to the north — our Canadian brothers and sisters who led the charge.”

Robert Contee, Chief Metropolitan Police Department, stated Friday that his police department is closely watching the changing information. He said that he would devote additional manhours to a state of increased alert in the coming weeks. He advised residents in D.C. not to ignore traffic delays and warned them that they were being closely monitored.

“There will be disruptions to traffic, that kind of thing,” Contee said. “I think we need to be very candid with the public about what some of the expectations, based upon what we’ve seen in Ottawa, that we might see here in the District.”

Contee called the Ottawa standoff “an incredible situation — one that we have not seen here in the District of Columbia.”

Contee, Mayor Muriel Bowser, memorably foresaw unrest several days prior to the January 6, 2021 insurrection at Capitol Building. Although they advised residents to keep inside, they also called for extra resources. But the Capitol Police, National Guard, and the police were not prepared for the Trump supporter invasion of the Capitol Building. This resulted in many deaths, as well as numerous injuries.

Still-living memories from that disaster fuel anxiety and speculate about the future convoys. But Bowser said she wasn’t yet warning residents to avoid the Capitol area or the National Mall.

“We’re not at a point to give specific instructions to residents just yet. We will,” Bowser said.


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