HAGERSTOWN, Md. (7News) — A truck convoy headed to the DC area this weekend is still on track to arrive on time.
The group that calls itself 'The People's Convoy' left California on Feb. 23 and is set to be in Hagerstown, Maryland Friday night, then head into the DC area on Saturday. The truckers leading the convoy are protesting what they view as government overreach during the coronavirus pandemic.
LATEST | DC area officials have been preparing for weeks for trucker convoys: what you need to know
The convoy, which includes trucks and some other vehicles, held a rally in Indiana Wednesday and will spend the night in Ohio on Thursday.
READ MORE | 'People's Convoy' protest to arrive in DMV area March 5, say they won't go into DC
“To the truck drivers around the world: Now is your time to stand up. Now is your time to usher in a renaissance time of freedom,” truck driver and event organizer Brian Brase told the rally in Adelanto. “Do not bow down.”
Convoy vehicles carried signs with slogans such as “Legalize freedom” and “Let them breathe.”
The People's Convoy is expected to be in town on March 5. The group left Adelanto Stadium, CA on the morning of Feb. 23 and was expected to make stops in eight cities before arriving in Hagerstown, Maryland on the evening of March 4. It's not yet known exactly where they'll be staging in Hagerstown.
"That is still true, I mean on or about. When you're on a mission like this, everything is so fluid, so it could be a day later or a day earlier," People's Convoy organizer Maureen Steele said.
Steele also told 7News the convoy has no plans to try to block highways or break the law.
"It’s time for elected officials to work with the blue-collar and white-collar workers of America and restore accountability and liberty –by lifting all mandates and ending the state of emergency – as COVID is well-in-hand now, and Americans need to get back to work in a free and unrestricted manner," the group said in a press release.
"The People’s Convoy will abide by agreements with local authorities, and terminate in the vicinity of the DC area, but will NOT be going into DC proper," they said in a press release.
Another group, The American Truckers Freedom Convoy, left Washington State on March 1 and is expected to end up in the DC region by March 6.
RELATED | Truck convoy leaves from Oregon to Washington, DC
Right now, they expect to arrive in Hagerstown on March 4 for an overnight stay and arrive "in the DC Beltway area" on March 5.
SEE ALSO | Some vehicles from People's Convoy involved in Oklahoma crash
Steele said the truckers behind 'The People's Convoy' never intended to be in the District for the State of the Union. And when they do arrive in the area this weekend, she says they will stay out of DC.
"We have zero plans to go into DC proper. After January 6, what went on there, there was never any intention of going into DC proper. We've discouraged other people from doing it," she said.
Beyond that, Steele was tight-lipped about the group's plans upon arriving in the DMV.
"We haven't announced it yet, but we will when we get closer to where we're going to be," Steele said.
Meanwhile, another group out of Maine said they're now headed to Hagerstown as well, where they plan to connect with the convoy that began in California.
READ MORE | Metro buses, dump and garbage trucks on standby as DC amps up security ahead of convoys
Although 'The People's Convoy' has said it won't go into the city, DC area law enforcement isn't taking any chances. They have Metrobuses, dump and garbage trucks on standby along with 700 National Guard troops to help should the groups make their way downtown.
The governors of Maryland and Virginia had a conversation last week about the potential impact of trucker protests, and both have said they're monitoring the situation closely.
7News asked Steele if 'The People's Convoy' will try to block or shut down highways that surround the nation's capital.
"No, that would be against the law," she said. "And like we've announced from the beginning, we don't have any intention of being unlawful."
On Thursday, Virginia State Police said it has been in contact with the organizers of several groups, "to ensure their understanding of Virginia traffic laws".
Maryland State Police also issued a statement on Thursday, saying they "continue to monitor developments in preparation of potential commercial, recreational and passenger vehicle convoys planned by drivers from across the country".
MSP said that in addition to road patrol troopers, troopers from its Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division and Automotive Safety Enforcement Division would be prepared "to assist public safety partners in Maryland and neighboring states to address any violations of law and to maintain the free flow of traffic".
Below is the full statement from Virginia State Police:
Virginia State Police continues to monitor and prepare for potential commercial and passenger vehicle convoys affecting traffic in and around the National Capital Region (NCR) through the weekend. State police also continues to communicate with our NCR local, state and federal partners concerning this developing situation.
Virginia State Police respects the public’s First Amendment rights and has been in contact with various groups’ organizers to ensure their understanding of Virginia traffic laws. These communications have also enabled us to share our expectations related to keeping traffic flowing safely and efficiently on Virginia highways, especially in the case of emergencies and for first responder vehicles.
In advance of any convoys entering the NCR region, Virginians can expect to see an increased patrol presence by Virginia troopers and our Motor Carrier Safety teams, as part of the department’s operational plan for this still-fluid situation. These efforts are to mitigate the impact of additional traffic volume on already congested roadways and Northern Virginia communities.
Maryland State Police also issued a statement:
The Maryland State Police continue to monitor developments in preparation of potential commercial, recreational and passenger vehicle convoys planned by drivers from across the country. Law enforcement, transportation and emergency management agencies in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. are jointly assessing the situation as it develops. Agencies will allocate personnel and additional resources based upon analysis of the situation to ensure safety on our roadways and minimize potential traffic disruptions throughout the region. In addition to road patrol troopers, troopers from our Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division and Automotive Safety Enforcement Division are preparedto assist public safety partners in Maryland and neighboring states to address any violations of law and to maintain the free flow of traffic. Citizens are also reminded of the potential for misinformation and disinformation that could be spread on social media in regards to potential protests. Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in the region will provide pertinent updates as needed.