WASHINGTON (7News) — A large trucker convoy that drove around the DC Beltway Sunday after rallying in Hagerstown, Maryland the last two days took to the Beltway again Monday to protest COVID-19 mandates.
The traffic impact was minimal as they rode around in the middle of the day.
Organizers, who were expected to meet with members of Congress Monday, now say they'll meet with lawmakers Tuesday.
According to their website, The People’s Convoy participants met at 8 a.m. where they are currently staged at Hagerstown Speedway.
MDOT traffic cameras spotted some truckers on I-70 East, before Frederick County around 11:30 a.m.
The group on Sunday did two loops and then headed back to Hagerstown.
READ MORE | People's Convoy returns to Hagerstown, truckers say they'll return to DC Beltway Monday
Officials with the convoy say local law enforcement from multiple agencies have been phenomenal in keeping The People's Convoy participants and the motoring public safe.
7News spoke to several supporters who had gathered along bridges to cheer on the group.
"I’m a patriot. I always have been. I’m really outraged what’s been done with the country under COVID," said Lin Bradley, of Bethesda.
"I think the truckers are brave to do what they’ve done. It’s been a long ride for them. And I’m really proud of them," Bradley added.
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The People's Convoy tells 7News that "Over the next few days, meetings will be held with senators and members of congress to have thoughtful and constructive dialogue around our demands."
"We are here to make the voices of the American people heard, express their deepest concerns, and effect meaningful change now," they added.
Hundreds of trucks, many from the cross-country convoy, and more than 1,000 truckers and their supporters converged on Hagerstown’s Speedway stadium and parking lot. From the signs they displayed affixed to their pick-up trucks and various other vehicles, the message was: Trump is good, Biden is bad and their protest is all about “freedom.”
It began with freedom from mask mandates, but since most states have dropped the mandates, the issue is to end the government's ability to invoke “emergency powers.”
Maureen Steele, a spokesperson for The People's Convoy, said of government actions under emergency powers, “the cure was worse than the disease, suicide rates through the roof, divorce through the roof.”
Another group, The American Truckers Freedom Convoy, left Washington State on March 1 and are expected to end up in the DC region this week as well.
See their Facebook Live here:
According to ABC News, on Monday, Defense Secretary Austin approved requests from Capitol Police and DC Homeland Security to extend National Guard support at traffic control points in the District till Wednesday.
Chris Rodriguez, the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, says officials have been watching the convoys and "took note" of what happened in Ottawa, Canada over the last month. They have been communicating with counterparts across the country and locally in Maryland and Virginia about what to expect.
The agencies have been sharing information about the truckers' routes as well as other intelligence to get situational awareness.
The convoys have been moving through communities quickly and have been largely non-violent, Rodriguez said.
If a large number of trucks try to disrupt traffic or threaten public safety or health, Rodriguez said DC area law enforcement will remain "tactically flexible."
"This is an unpredictable environment that we're in...so we want to make sure any info that could indicate a shift in that environment is quickly communicated so our response agencies can do their jobs," he said.
Virginia State Police issued this statement:
"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 issued this 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 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.
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. Follow roads.maryland.gov for the latest traffic alerts."
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