The People’s Convoy will hold a final rally at its current home base in Idaho on Wednesday before it heads back to Washington D.C. — the city the protesters are suing for not allowing them to take over downtown streets. According to organizers they’re coming back with “teeth and a backbone.”
Convoy leader David “Santa” Riddell seemed to call out lawmakers, those who ignored the protesters and those who met with them, when addressing the crowd over the weekend:
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!
Back in March, when the Convoy was camped at the Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland, then-organizer Brian Brase managed to get a meeting with Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson. Brase called the meeting a win for the Convoy, according to the Washington Post, but it resulted in little more than a photo-op for the right-wing lawmakers, annoying some members of the Convoy. Brase was forced out of leadership in the Convoy in April after taking several weekends off from protesting to head home.
Members of the Convoy also filed a lawsuit this week claiming that police violated their first amendment rights by blocking protesters from entering D.C. From the Washingtonian:
Sixteen people who took part in the trucker convoy protests around Washington earlier this year filed suit against the DC government Monday, claiming that police violated their First Amendment rights by blocking highway exits.
The blockades were highly effective, the plaintiffs argue: They say people associated with the People’s Convoy were turned away from entering the District four separate times. This policy amounts to a violation of their rights, the convoyers say: it’s “unconstitutionally vague on its face because it allows the District unfettered discretion to refuse to grant Plaintiffs access to the District, thereby depriving Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights to travel and free speech.”
It will be interesting to see how this argument fares in court: Governments routinely erect barriers in the name of public safety. The plaintiffs do not state in their suit whether they were among the handful of actual 18-wheelers that took part in the prolonged and ultimately ineffective protest, but truck routes are restricted in much of downtown DC.
The People’s Convoy originally claimed these blockades caused members to pee their pants, and therefore the police are the ones who should be arrested, so there. Considering the People’s Convoy is just copying Canada’s Freedom Convoy, which shut down Ottawa for three weeks, officials were perhaps justifiably concerned with keeping the protest out of busy downtown streets.
The Convoy did apply for a permit to protest in D.C. proper, and were partially approved (what a country) but also slightly denied, which wasn’t good enough. When members did manage to get into the city proper they were met with bad traffic, middle fingers, slow bikers and a lack of parking.
Getting the heck off the west coast might be a good idea, considering police in Portland are investigating protest members for shots fired in traffic during a confrontation with counter protesters. Of course, D.C. Metro police are still looking into those attacks on a biker and pedestrian by members of the Convoy, so the heat is on no matter what coast they visit.
With diesel at record prices, and donations not exactly flooding in at Freedom Convoy levels (the ticker on the protest’s website has been sitting at $1.8 million for weeks now) one wonders how long they can keep it up.