Nothing says celebration of America’s independence like cops glad-handing right-wing extremist around our nation’s capital. That’s right dear readers, despite changing their name to the much less catchy 1776 Restoration Movement, the hangers-on of the People’s Convoy took to the Washington, D.C-area freeways for a convoy of their own.
The original People’s Convoy disbanded in a hail of drama and paranoid accusations back in May. Some wanted to keep the dream alive, and a few dozen or so protesters reformed as the 1776 Restoration Movement.
It’s been a while since we checked in with the 1776 RM. I’ve been keeping an eye on them, but didn’t want to bother with silly antics like handing out flyers and doing minor convoys in small towns. Now they’ve attempted something at least noteworthy. Leader David Riddell who goes by “Santa” promised more than fireworks for the 4th of July. What he delivered was a familiar brand of slight inconvenience. From the Daily Beast:
The group brought traffic on 95 north and 95 south near exit 198 to a near stop, as they occupied three lanes in both directions. Their leader, David “Santa” Riddell, who was heading up a group on 95 south, proudly stated: “We have literally attacked 270 into Washington, D.C., 7 [sic] into Washington D.C., 95 north into Washington, D.C. and 95 south into Washington, D.C.—all with relatively the same amount of time.”
“Literally attacked” was breaking the group into four separate convoys and stopping traffic outside of D.C. for thirty minutes. While the Daily Beast reports Santa told his people police had threatened them for arrest for stopping traffic, Maryland State Police were pretty friendly with the group.
Despite Maryland State Police telling protestors they couldn’t park on the freeways, they were allowed to run out their 30 minutes. One streamer, Oreo Express, caught police fist bumping and hanging out with group. Oreo Express would later quit streaming after users kept pointing out the sex offenders allowed to remain in the group.
What are they protesting? After all, the far right has had quite a few wins lately. The 1776 RM sent out a press release about the action, which does not clear things up:
Not sure just how inspirational it really was, considering a second protest shutdown of D.C. streets in the city proper for much longer and for a clear reason. Protesters with Declare Emergency shutdown the inner loop of D.C’s Beltway for 90 minutes, leading to 13 arrests, according to DCist:
The group, Declare Emergency, said they engaged in an act of civil disobedience to demand that President Biden declare a state of climate emergency. Their group of almost two dozen protesters came from as far away as Oregon, Florida, and Washington state, according to a press release. The blocked the highway and also held signs and playing recordings from an overpass above, according to Bethesda Beat.
Police arrested 13 of the protesters, according to the group, and the lanes reopened by 2:30 p.m.
“The world’s lack of any significant action to prevent the ravages of the impending climate catastrophe is what has led me to take this action,” Declare Emergency supporter Deborah Kushner of Staunton, Virginia said in a press release. “I choose to not be complicit in the horrible death of this amazing planet. We are far into the 11th hour. It’s time for us all to rise. We have everything to lose.”
Agree or disagree with the tactic of shutting down traffic, at least Declare Emergency has a clear and defined goal. When you check out the mission statement on the 1776 RM’s website, things remain really hazy. There’s a lot of talk about rights, freedom of speech and reclaiming those rights, but not a lot of meat on those bones. Streamers and participants during the action delighted in how “triggered” people in traffic were. Oreo Express even called it “Operation: Triggered” which sounds more like what dickheads on the internet do for kicks rather than a serious protest. It’s not that unusual for people stuck in traffic for a stupid reason to blare their horns, after all.
It’s far from the worst thing to happen this July 4th, but it’s definitely a group of extremist worth keeping an eye on.