After months of not accomplishing anything much at all, the so-called "people's convoy" has come to an embarrassing end.
The group of anti-government and anti-vaccine truckers got kicked out of the East Coast speedway they've often called home after namecalling broke out among the ranks and some punches were thrown. At one point, the police were called in to work as peacemakers between the groups organizers and their pissed off supporters out for blood.
It was an unceremonious end for the truckers, brought together over a hatred of COVID-19 health measures and a love for the open road and deranged conspiracies. Starting in early March, the group spent weeks aimlessly looping Washington, D.C.’s Capital Beltway—and enduring many embarrassing incidents (like a man named Ricky Bobby almost tearing them apart). The truckers then decided to go to California, where they were chased back to D.C. by egg-wielding Oaklanders.
The group’s goal was to have COVID-19 health measures rolled back, and they were initially the toast of right-wing media. They also reportedly raised and spent over a million dollars and earned support from mainstream Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz. But their lack of any attainable demands, the COVID-19 pandemic waning, and the distraction of a major war in Europe quickly made them an afterthought.
Now, the MAGA trucker convoy has all but broken up, and of course, livestreamed the drama.
“Our job is now to expose them and press charges against them.”
The return of the truckers to their home base in the parking lot at the Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland last week was anything but harmonious. One of the fights that broke out featured livestreamer Freedom Squirrel fighting with a person called “Big D” because someone punched another person in the face. Others called for “Santa Claus,” one of the convoy’s many leaders, to solve their problems, and someone made a disturbing accusation about a cat being hung from a truck. (The cat is apparently OK though.)
“You better get out of here tonight or you're gonna deal with me, motherfuckers,” one of the group's in-house “security guards,” told Freedom Squirrel in the livestream.
It was, by all accounts, a big dumb mess, and the Hagerstown Speedway General Manager Lisa Plessinger was none too pleased with all the drama. She decided to pull the plug on everything, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
"I'm not a babysitter,” she told the Herald-Mail after the hubbub. "I didn't sign up for that so when they got to act 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’ and put them in time out. So that's what I did."
In response to their surprise eviction, the convoy's leaders bizarrely declared “victory” and hastily announced “the conclusion to the national convoy portion of this great movement.” Then, they quickly distanced themselves from the folks they brought to Hagerstown.
“Any convoy and protest activity from this time forward is done on an individual basis and is not representing The “people's convoy” their statement released on Friday continued.
That caused, of course, another whirlwind of drama, as cops were forced to work as intermediaries between two organizers cornered in a luxury RV and supporters who were boiling mad over the premature “declaration of victory,” the disbanding of the convoy, and financial woes. A livestream of the situation shows Maryland state troopers trying to calm down a group of angry protestors demanding the arrest of their leaders. But the two leaders weren’t taken into custody, and eventually, the supporters took leave of the parking lot— despite a few claiming “squatters' rights.”
The convoy has raised millions of dollars—most of which, according to the Washington Post has been spent—for the organizers, drivers, and many supporters who had uprooted their lives at considerable financial and personal costs. On Friday irate supporters specifically demanded to know where their $15,000 rent check to the speedway went. The cops and the general manager told them it had never been paid.
The convoy’s website is now down, and the group's telegram page has taken a distinctive edge against the former leaders. The mood among the supporters remains apoplectic with followers making accusations of theft and people wanting to band together against those they used to follow.
“As people that drove around the country and raised money for them to pay, they lied to us,” one popular streamer said about the organizers. “Our job is now to expose them and press charges against them.”
But community-based anti-government movements like this have become a lifestyle for a certain subsect of right-wing supporters, so they aren't going to just call this a day. The diehards, led by the ever-present trucker leader “Santa”—who recently outted himself as a Proud Boy—planned to relocate to a spot in Virginia. Rebranded as the 1776 Restoration Movement, they’ll continue their anti-government protests in one form or another. They recently camped in an IHOP parking lot.
Inspired by the much more successful Canadian version of an anti-government trucker protest, the “people's convoy” hyped up their arrival online. To much fanfare, they left California for Washington, D.C., on February 23, picking up more and more people as they rolled across the country. Once there, they set up base at the Hagerstown Raceway and began to loop the beltway for weeks as they were too scared of antifa and the government to go into D.C.
Eventually, they decided to move on to California to raise awareness against some state bills they opposed but continued to accomplish little. After that, the organizers decided to turn their trucks back to where the good times were had, Washington, D.C. The group vowed they were coming back “with teeth” this time, but they were only able to do one “recon” loop of the beltway before self-immolating.
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.