The People's Convoy Is Over

Kicked out of their home base and torn apart with infighting, the Convoy has officially disbanded.

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Screenshot: WYSIWYG TV/YouTube

The People’s Convoy website is broken. The rumble of semi trucks is gone from the Speedway in Hagerstown, Maryland. The People’s Convoy disbanded on Friday, declaring “victory” ... and getting kicked out of their home base in the process.

The Convoy’s leadership claims victory despite having never made it back into Washington D.C., as was their stated goal. This return trip to D.C. involved only a “recon” loop of the beltway by truckers on Wednesday. Organizers released a press release Friday afternoon, calling it quits and distancing the group from whatever protest actions may come after. It seems protesters were completely blindsided by the move:

As of 2:30pm EST today May 20, 2022, The People’s Convoy declares victory and announces its conclusion of the national convoy portion of this great movement. Any convoy and protest activity from this time forward is done on an individual basis and is not representing The People’s Convoy. We will be exiting Hagerstown Speedway within 7 days.

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A few hours after releasing this press release, Maryland State Troopers were called to the Speedway and found Convoy organizers hiding out in a luxury RV. A dozen or so Convoy participants were angry, demanding answers from the protest’s leaders. Some even called for the leaders to be arrested for fraud:

The press release from Convoy organizers said that protesters had seven days to head home. But the Speedway’s owners asked the group to leave that night. As Hagerstown Speedway general manager Lisa Plessinger told the Herald-Mail:

“I’m not a babysitter,” she told the newspaper. “I didn’t sign up for that. So when they got to acting like a bunch of kids it was time for them to go home.

“Just like with any unruly child, you only put up with so many temper tantrums before you say, ‘Enough. Put them in time out.’ So that’s what I did.”

[...]

Plessinger had supported the larger group’s right to protest and figured it wouldn’t be a problem for them to use the facility.

“Initially they were just to be there one day, one night, and it just turned into ... like when your mother-in-law comes to visit and decides to stay,” she said.

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Apparently, the fistfights and police activity at the Speedway on Thursday were Plessinger’s last straw. Remaining protesters were off the grounds by 10 p.m. Friday, the Herald reports.

One of the most visible Convoy organizers has been David Riddell, aka “Santa.” With the Convoy officially disbanded, Riddell announced he was forming the 1776 Restoration Movement out of the ashes of the Convoy. Some former Convoy streamers have now switched to the new movement. One of the most prominent streamers in the Convoy, 1st Responder Media, caught this speech from Riddell as he defended his reputation after the fracturing. Riddell clarified why the Convoy didn’t make it downtown before imploding. Once again, bladders played a pivotal role:

“I was playing little games with the D.C. police department. I was talking to the D.C. police department. The reason I was holding off on doing that [entering D.C.] was because we didn’t have our porta potties. When we went into downtown I didn’t want our people having to find a place to go to the bathroom. I knew that there was gonna be bad actors all around us. I didn’t want them away from their vehicles so I was waiting on those to be secured,” Riddell told protesters.

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Riddell also clarified that the 1776 Restoration Movement is not a leaderless movement, nor is it a democracy or a republic. He’s in charge.

“I like to get things done and this has to get done. So when I say, I’m the leader of this Convoy, I meant that and what that means is that I make the final call on what we do. But what that also means is I take full responsibility for everything we do.”

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The point of the 1776 Restoration Movement is to return to “constitutional democracy,” because Riddell loves democracy, or wait, actually he actually doesn’t:

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The People’s Convoy began back in late February as an American version of Canada’s Freedom Convoy, the protest that shut down Ottawa for three weeks. The People’s Convoy arrived in March and spent weeks getting lost, intimidating civilian drivers in front of livestreamers and endlessly looping the hell freeway that is the D.C. Beltway.

The Convoy headed west on March 28 due to bad weather and low morale. On the west coast, they didn’t fair much better. First, they mistakenly cheered when a bill they opposed moved forward in its process of becoming a law. Then they were egged by teens while traveling through the Bay Area. Video of a Convoy member shooting at kids for allegedly throwing water balloons full of paint and eggs on protester’s vehicles didn’t help the Convoy’s image, and the ragtag crew began slowly heading back East earlier this month — this time, supposedly, with more grit and determination than the first run at shutting down D.C. It was then that Riddell took the reins with a more aggressive approach. Riddell told protesters earlier this month:

When we left, you guys laughed at us, you made fun of us, you placated us with little—cute little words. You came out and had your little photo-op meetings with us–that’s going to happen no more. We are done listening to your lies. We bought them for a little bit. We thought you guys actually believed in what we were standing for and we actually believed you were going to do what we asked you to do as our representatives.

[...]

Enough is enough. When we go back to DC, we are not the same convoy that went there the first time. We are not the same convoy that left there. We are coming back with teeth and a backbone!

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Where is it going to go from here? Who can say. But if the 1776 Restoration Movement keeps on trucking (and it sounds like there are more convoys in the works) we’ll be keeping an eye on it. For now, farewell People’s Convoy. What a long, incredibly strange trip it’s been.