After weeks of slowly circling the Capital Beltway aggravating commuters, the so-called “People’s Convoy” of MAGA truckers finally breached the D.C. city line Thursday, where they honked at residents, drove in circles, and were met with a very predictable “Fuck off!”
But at their Friday-morning rally 70 miles away in Hagerstown, Maryland, the truckers made it clear they cared little for what the “weirdos who live in downtown D.C. and can’t even fly an American flag” think. So organizers said they’ll “go on a little ride again through downtown D.C. and see what a Friday afternoon in the swamp looks like.”
This time, they’ve got more than mask and vaccine mandates on their minds.
“What’s gonna happen up here in D.C., Black Lives Matter Street, we’re gonna take it back,” said one of the protesters the organizers invited on stage to speak. “All that paint is coming off that street,” he said. “Before I get put in my grave, it’s gonna get tarred and feathered.”
The crowd cheered their approval of the idea. The protester was referring to Black Lives Matter Plaza, a two-block section of 16th Street in Washington D.C., where “Black Lives Matter” was painted in large yellow letters on the street in the wake of protests following the May 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of police. The plaza was officially renamed by Mayor Muriel Bowser in 2020.
Since the convoy arrived in early March, it’s been somewhat in search of a cause, with leadership pleading with the crowd to avoid going into downtown D.C.—mainly to avoid being tricked into a Jan. 6-style event. Instead, their orders were to just loop the Beltway slowly. This week, apparently hearing all the power in “Inside the Beltway,” leadership and participants started to break from that approach.
Over the last few days, several small groups had made their way downtown. At a Thursday morning meeting, leadership told protesters to form mini-convoys and go ahead and truck wherever they wanted. With the Beltway shackles removed, multiple members of the convoy finally decided to head straight downtown.
Video taken from downtown D.C. and posted to social media shows the protesters being sworn at, flipped off, and told to leave.
One video shows a man driving alongside the convoy and yelling at each of them (almost all have their windows down) to “go home.” When he reaches someone not with them, he apologizes.
Other videos show residents standing on the sidewalk yelling at the convoy to "fuck off."
One reporter on the ground said those who did make it downtown just did little loops and complained about parking. The protesters backed up traffic and the City of D.C. issued a warning to residents that because of “demonstration activity expected on roadways in and around DC today, motorists should expect traffic delays.”
The convoy arrived at a racetrack parking lot in Hagerstown on March 4 and has been driving and honking around the area ever since. The group, many of which are deeply entrenched in right-wing conspiracy culture, are protesting vaccine mandates and hoping the government will rescind the federal emergency declaration set in 2020 about COVID-19. Several politicians have met with the group, including Republican Sen. Ted Cruz and Rep. Matt Gaetz.
While the group remains active, their numbers are dwindling as the days go by. A video of the Friday drivers’ meeting shows a sparse crowd significantly smaller than what the group had before.
Authorities had closed off several exits leading from the Beltway to the downtown core, but the drivers were able to find alternative routes. For the weekend, the convoy will be working without their de facto leader, Brian Brase, who announced he’d be temporarily leaving the convoy to go see his family. Mike Landis, another key organizer, is taking the reins.
“We’re going to go down and we’re just going to keep annoying them and exhausting their resources and playing with them,” said Landis Friday morning. “We’ve got nothing but time sitting here doing what we’re doing, that’s why we’re here.”
Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.