US ‘freedom convoy’ inspired by Canada’s offers to organize trip to Washington | American News
The effort to launch an American “freedom ferry,” inspired by Canadian truckers who shut down parts of Ottawa for several weeks initially to protest vaccination mandates, is taking shape somewhat haphazardly.
At least three national organizations, and a constellation of regional organizations, say they will leave for Washington in early March.
A proposed convoy is setting out from Fresno, California on March 2, taking the I-10 freeway directly to the capital, where it would arrive on March 6.
“What brings us here tonight is unity, togetherness and an American spirit,” the group’s lead organizer, Kip Coltrin, said on a conference call last week. “Obviously we have a grievance to make to our politicians, to our people in Washington.”
Another organization, which calls itself the “People’s Convoy”, also plans to depart the first week of March from California. This effort is supported by Freedom Fighter Nation, a far-right conspiracy group led by attorney Leigh Dundas.
A third group, “Convoy 4 Freedom”, advertises its own convoy, although its size and organization appear modest in comparison to the others.
The loose nature of the impending protest makes it difficult to determine how many people might join, their goals and the potential for disruption.
In a Facebook video, Coltrin said he was asked how many participants he expected to join on the trek to Washington. “My response was to start laughing – respectfully, of course – laughing and saying, ‘I don’t know.’ But, he insisted, “It will happen. There is no maybe.
Around the world, convoys sympathetic to Canadian truckers, which occupied the area in front of the Parliament Buildings and drew thousands more protesters, formed with varying degrees of success.
The motivation of the American convoys appears as fragmented as its organization. Coltrin said his group’s protest will focus on everything from cross-border vaccination mandates for truckers, to rising inflation, to their mistaken belief that voter fraud cost Donald Trump his re-election. “Remember, we are not just against the government, but against a $200 billion big pharma industry and all of its investors,” he said. Coltrin has repeatedly shared misinformation about vaccines on Facebook, including from QAnon influencer Praying Medic.
Coltrin said in another video, “Patriot Guard Riders, our veterans, come on guys. Three percent: come on, guys. Oath Keepers: Come on guys. The FBI has brought charges against a number of members of the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers, including its leader, for their role in the January 6 insurrection. Several participants in the conference call said they were present at the Capitol that day.
The “people’s convoy” is led by Dundas, who on January 6 alleged that US officials were working with foreign governments to rig the US election against Trump, and that “we would be well within our rights to take them out and shoot them or hang them”.
Despite this, she was asked by Senator Ron Johnson to speak before the Senate last month to give “a second opinion” on Covid-19.
Dozens of social media pages have popped up announcing and organizing the US convoys, especially on right-wing social media platforms such as Gettr and Gab. A Facebook group to organize logistics and support has nearly 25,000 members.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Department of Homeland Security was actively monitoring the possibility of a convoy bound for Washington.
“They are taking all necessary steps to ensure the convoy does not disrupt legal commerce and transportation or interfere with federal government and law enforcement operations,” Psaki said.