The People's Convoy has played by the rules for over three weeks now. It is now day 24 for the U.S.-based truckers. They want the Biden Administration emergency orders lifted and say they won't stop until they get their way. The organizers have coordinated their movement with law enforcement every day since Feb.23, when it pulled out of Adelanto, CA. Local authorities provided courtesy escorts for the convoy in several states as it moved across the U.S. However, on Thursday and Friday this week, the truckers are in "Follow The Leader" mode, splitting up into smaller convoys because of persistent D.C. Metro Police blockades into the city.
In the morning, several groups pulled out of Hagerstown Speedway, splitting up into smaller convoys to distract the police. While a group of 10 trucks, 3 cars, and a motorcycle led by Allen Kelly hung back until the afternoon, hoping to foil D.C. Metro's attempts to block them from going into the city. The truckers' base is currently staged at the Hagerstown Speedway.
This week has brought both frustration and some small triumphs for the truckers. On Wednesday, in the frustration column, a group of about 15 trucks led by Allen Kelly was pulled over by Metro D.C. Police. Allen Kelly and others tried to reason with the police about the blockages, saying they are registered to drive through D.C. and have a right to exercise their First Amendment rights. Allen and his wife Bonnie have been with the Convoy since its start in Adelanto, CA.
Kelly is heard pleading with the officers to allow them to go in. Excerpts of the conversation are below:
"Everything is legal," said Kelly, "We are being discriminated against. Guys, we are peaceful. We are not burning the city down. We don't walk with people who do that. We love you guys. Them guys are the ones who throw you guys under the bus. We've supported you for years."
The officer said you can help us by moving on through, to which Kelly responded, "You could help us! Help us! Work for the people..." The officer told him he didn't want to argue and they would not open the road.
Kelly continued, "You guys are doing what you are told to do by a bunch of tyrants for a paycheck? Over your freedom? Really?! What about our kids? What about your kids and your grandkids?"
At this point in the conversation, the officer in charge told the truckers that his "boss is going to eventually tell me to start arresting people...and I don't want to do it."
At the end of the conversation, which was respectful throughout on both sides, the truckers shook hands with the officers, and thirteen of them moved to a Walmart parking lot to have lunch and regroup. Pictured below are the thirteen truckers who wanted to go to D.C. to honor the thirteen soldiers who died during the Afghanistan evacuation.
The Thirteen/Courtesy Lisa Schmitt
Late Wednesday, in the triumph column, a group of four bobtails broke off from the thirteen who were attempting to enter the city. Those four made it to the Mall. Art Czajkowski, Robert Budzik, Alvin Zook, and Ryan Nelson parked their trucks and took some photos at the Mall. The police eventually told them that they had to leave.
Photo at the Mall/Courtesy of Big Rig Shots
Thursday, seven trucks and several cars made it to the Capital, but police caught up with them, making them go through neighborhoods to get back to the highway. UncoverDC spoke with trucker Ron Coleman, who confirmed that the truckers were greeted with many middle fingers and shouts from residents to "go home."
There have been several accidents over the past two weeks. However, the press—which has all but refused to report on the U.S. truckers' convoys—managed to get almost all of the details wrong when it does manage to report. The truckers have never obstructed an exit or a street. It has been the D.C. police who have unlawfully blocked exits along 395 and 295.
In fact, in 2008, in reaction to blockades by Metro Police, this decision was made in 2009:
"A federal appeals court said Friday that police checkpoints in a crime-plagued Washington neighborhood are unconstitutional and ordered a lower court to reconsider its refusal to block the program. 'It is apparent that appellants' constitutional rights are violated,' Chief Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit wrote in the ruling Friday, citing several Supreme Court cases as precedent. D.C. residents 'have the right to travel freely on public streets without being subjected to police seizure and interrogation in the absence of any allegation,' said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, an attorney with the group.
It can't be denied 'that citizens have a right to drive upon the public streets of the District of Columbia or any other city absent a constitutionally sound reason for limiting their access,' Sentelle wrote for the three-judge panel."
Ron Coleman/Wendi Strauch Mahoney
One incident involved trucker Ron Coleman who is now back in Hagerstown filling out incident insurance reports. On Wednesday, he was traveling with the convoy, and a car jumped out in front of his truck, causing the door to be ripped off. No injuries were reported. Several outlets, including The Daily Beast, reported that Ron threatened to run the driver over and left the scene without reporting the accident to the police. Ron told UncoverDC that while he did yell out that he would run over the car if the driver didn't stop blocking him; he was never going to run over the driver. He also said that he did not "flee the scene," as reported, but instead was asked by the police to keep moving and file a report later. Coleman told UncoverDC:
"There was a guy—I already passed US1, and I was the fourth truck behind Mike, so it's Mike, Bryan, Chucker G, and me. I was rolling past US1 and was heading up towards 3rd Ave. The lanes were blocked. And some guy cut me off, and I hit his door. And peeled his driver's door open like a tin can. He was the one that did the illegal lane change. A cop saw the whole thing. Then the guy pulls in front of me. After that, the guy rolls up to the cop, talking to him about me hitting him and the cop told him he couldn't stop there. I rolled up next to him, rolled my window down, and I yelled out the window, 'He hit me. He hit me.' And the cop said, 'Keep rolling.' So I did. And, you know, they're doing hit pieces all over the place on me saying I did a hit and run."
North Carolina Congressional candidate Tyler Lee was in the passenger seat with Coleman and caught the entire incident on video at the 24 min timestamp. Lee has been traveling with the Convoy from the beginning.
There has been a "heavy police response" all week long. The truckers feel it is the blockades by police, not the truckers who are causing danger and unnecessary congestion and hassles for commuters. In fact, according to The Washington Post, a "dump truck and a D.C. police vehicle had been parked at Exit 1C as part of security measures for the "People's Convoy" caused a "fiery crash," leaving two dead as they were moving Eastbound on 695 on Tuesday evening. The driver was speeding and "lost control" of the vehicle.
Parts of the convoy made it into D.C. again on Friday, and so did Allen Kelly with his later rollout of Hagerstown. His mission has been to get into the city with flags and memorabilia given to him by supporters across the country. As of this publication, he is currently rolling through D.C.
As he and his wife Bonnie were going through D.C., Bonnie sent a message to UncoverDC. The Kellys saw a man with a dog waving in support from the sidewalk. Unfortunately, another onlooker punched him in the face moments later. Bonnie believes the reason for the incident is because "We can no longer agree to disagree." Bonnie was also called a "Bi&*ch" as she waved to an onlooker.
Below is a small snippet of the convoy parked and taking photos and video to record their successful visit.
Below are a few of the items Kelly promised to bring to the heart of D.C.
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The People's Convoy has been the largest in the U.S. to date—at one point, the convoy was around 7,000 vehicles strong and 30 miles long. Several other convoys are rolling through various states across America, scheduled to arrive at Hagerstown Speedway next week. Kelly said convoys of motorcycles are also on their way to the D.C. area.