Advertisement
Maryland

‘People’s Convoy’ plans to circle Capital Beltway on Monday morning, organizer says

The “People’s Convoy,” a group of hundreds of trucks, cars and SUVs protesting the government’s response to the pandemic, plans to leave the Hagerstown Speedway on Monday about 9:30 a.m. and head to the Capital Beltway for a second day of demonstrations in the D.C. area, an organizer said.

Organizer Brian Brase said the group, which circled the Beltway twice on Sunday, aimed to loop around once Monday. He said the group plans to occupy two lanes instead of one as an “escalation.” They will drive the minimum legal speed limit, he said.

Advertisement

Authorities across the D.C. region have monitored the group and warned drivers about potential traffic problems in coming days. Some officials have encouraged drivers to avoid the Beltway when possible.

The group plans to stay at the speedway until “at least” Saturday, Brase said, adding that “hopefully this is all over by Wednesday.” He did not disclose the group’s plans for the rest of the week.

Advertisement

Many of the protesters in Hagerstown on Saturday had made a 2,500-mile journey from Southern California, while others joined the effort during the journey.

The group says it wants to hold lawmakers accountable for the government’s pandemic responses. Many described frustrations with workplace vaccine mandates and other measures meant to limit the spread of the coronavirus — even though those rules have been lifted in many places. At the speedway, the crowds displayed support for former President Donald Trump and disdain for President Joe Biden.

‘Freedom Convoy’ spinoff rallies in Md. with about 1,000 vehicles and plans to drive around the Capital Beltway

On Sunday night, Brase mentioned meeting with “members of both the House and Senate,” but declined to answer questions about whether those plans were confirmed, who they would meet with or where those meetings would happen.

“I’m hopeful that we have successful dialogue with congressmen and women and senators that help get what we’re looking for pushed through in a timely fashion,” said Brase, a 37-year-old truck driver from northwest Ohio. “If they don’t come to the table to meet with us or they ignore us, then every day it will escalate.”

Brase again said the group is coordinating with local law enforcement to avoid impeding traffic, while also acknowledging that “obviously there’s a natural disturbance. We’re hoping one lap by two lanes so we get back here sooner before rush hour or anything like that.”

The Morning Sun

The Morning Sun

Daily

Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.

The plan comes after a demonstration Sunday, where the convoy looped the Beltway twice. Brase called it a “success,” saying that the group stretched the entirety of the Beltway.

“Our lead truck met up with the last vehicle,” Brase said. “That made us about 65 miles long.”

Advertisement

That was not how it appeared on the Beltway, a 64-mile highway. Although the convoy started out in a formation that stretched about 30 miles, it became diluted after merging with normal traffic.

Brase said the group still does not have plans to go into D.C. or to stop driving on the Beltway. He added: “We do not want to impede traffic any more than necessary to get our message across.”

The convoy vehicles were better organized Sunday night, with big rigs lined in rows near the entrance to the speedway parking. Behind them were RVs and motor homes, campers, and then cars and pickup trucks. That will allow the convoy to stay closer together as they drive Monday, he said.

“The problem today was, because of the way we came in last time, everybody was intermingled with each other. So you had people that couldn’t get up and going,” Brase said. “So it caused the gap.”

The group expects another convoy of about 500 vehicles from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia to join the convoy at the speedway overnight, he said.


Advertisement