U.S. prepares for Canada style protests

February 26, 2022 - 18:37

TEHRAN- The United States is set to deploy hundreds of National Guard troops to Washington ahead of the arrival of copycat trucker convoys inspired by similar anti-government protests in neighboring Canada. 

According to the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has approved a request from the District of Columbia and the U.S. Capitol Police for the deployment of at least 700 National Guard troops.

A statement said that some 50 "large tactical vehicles" will also be stationed 24 hours a day. 

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy is also deploying National Guard troops to Washington ahead of the anticipated trucker convoys and protests. 

An estimated 25 different convoys are planning to join forces and converge on the nation's capital, to replicate recent protests in Canada.

Murphy has announced that approximately 100 National Guard troops have been activated and will make their way to the capital.
“The National Guard is going to DC,” Murphy said, “That was a request, 20 vehicles, and over 100 manpower.”

Murphy claims the deployment isn’t based on a political decision but a public safety request from the federal government.

“We don’t let politics get in the middle of decisions on whether to accept requests like that, we did it during the Trump administration to protect monuments and we’re doing it in this case, I assume so we don’t see what happened in Ottawa happen in our nation’s capital.”

New Jersey National Guard troops were deployed to Washington during the 2020 George Floyd anti-racism protests, the guards were condemned for using heavy-handed tactics to crack down on the demonstrations. 

In 2021, National Guard troops were again deployed to the capital during the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building.

Fencing has also been erected ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address amid fears the demonstrations will be aiming to disrupt the speech.

U.S. Capitol Police say several trucker convoys are planning to converge on Washington around the time of Biden's address on Tuesday. Others may arrive a few days later. 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she was "confident" in the security plans put in place to protect Washington around the time of Biden's State of the Union speech.

The trucker-led protests are expected to converge on the U.S. capital in the coming days in what experts say has become a fast-spreading movement in the Western world where the grievances against various domestic government policies are being voiced in new different tactics. 

The convoys have been inspired by what began as truckers blocking routes and areas in Canada against covid restrictions but soon morphed into anti-government protests against multiple issues; topping the agenda was what the demonstrators say is the Canadian government’s attempts to curb their freedom. 

The protests in Canada and in particular the capital Ottawa saw the government of Prime Minster Trustin Trudeau trigger emergency powers to crack down on the demonstrations, a move that sparked widespread criticism in the country and lawsuits against the rare government measure.

Back in the United States Cynthia Miller-Idriss, director of American University's Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab says "What we're seeing is that people are using this as an excuse to just express a whole bunch of other grievances against the Biden administration or perceived threats on their freedom, this might be about mandates but not really about mandates in the long run."

One of the conveys, dubbed “the People's Convoy” has already raised about $500,000 from online crowd-funding platforms to support the movement’s efforts. It will cross the country from California.

"The People’s Convoy" left from Southern California and plans to arrive in the "DC Beltway area" by March 5, according to the group's website. The route passes through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

"A lot of people have asked why we’re doing this – what’s your reason behind it. People want a defined, clear answer. They think it’s one thing”, organizer Brian Brase told the crowd.

He added "the truth is, it's about my children. It’s about my future grandchildren. It’s about our families. It’s about our country. It’s about letting our government know that you work for us."

Brase told the media wherever the convoy stops, it is "not going anywhere" until its demands - which include an end to mask mandates and vaccination requirements - are met. Organizers say they expect “thousands, perhaps tens of thousands”, to join them. 

The group traveling from California also wants to “jumpstart the economy” and “reopen the U.S.” it says. 

A second group, from Scranton, Pennsylvania, said it aimed to shut down the Beltway, the main road that surrounds Washington. It’s spokesperson Bob Bolus, told a local media station, it would be like "a giant boa constrictor... that basically squeezes you, chokes you and it swallows you. That's what we're going to do DC" he said.

He claims that his convoy has no intention of breaking laws, but warned this could happen if their demands regarding pandemic mandates and the cost of fuel are not met. 

"They are not going to intimidate us and they are not going to threaten us. We're the power, not them” he noted.

Coleman, a trucker for 45 years, says he was pushing for the end to the emergency powers that U.S. politicians have used to approve covid pandemic-related restrictions on Americans.

Former President Donald Trump declared the state of emergency in America back in March 2020. Last week, Biden announced his intention to extend it beyond its current expiration date at the start of March this year.

As multiple convoys have been launched or plan to do so very soon, officials are preparing for major potential gridlock in the American capital as well as the Beltway, a 64-mile roadway through Virginia and Maryland that circles the District of Columbia. 

As some convoys have already hit the streets, footage and images circulating in the media show supporters cheering on as several trucker caravans began moving.

In Michigan, supporters gathered on a bridge in Mundy Township to see off a trucker convoy headed to Washington.

Other images have surfaced showing supporters listening to speeches by organizers in different cities and states about the reasons for their movement. Some supporters can be seen donating cash in support of the protest. 

While the convoys all have different starting points, departure dates, and routes; they do all have one thing in common and that is their destination: Washington D.C.

The websites organizing the American trucker convoys all make direct reference to their inspiration and solidarity with the Canadian movement. 

What began in Canada appears to be the start of something bigger than just truckers gathering for weeks and halting traffic or border crossing in protest at vaccine mandates. 

A statement on the “People’s Convoy” website pays homage to “our brave and courageous neighbors to the north, our Canadian brothers and sisters who led the charge”.

Speaking of the original Canadian demonstrations, Wesley Wark, a senior fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian public policy group told American media outlets that “there is a worry, and it’s been expressed in all kinds of ways, that this protest movement will become something much more significant and much more sustained... It was given terrific oxygen to spread its message”. 

Analysts argue the protesters, from across the political spectrum, saw much of the disruption that they caused as a tactical victory.

American-based social media platforms have proven to be the driving force behind the latest protest movement in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

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