The People's Convoy block the roads to protest against country's COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo by Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Everything seemed to be going just peachy for the anti-vaccine trucker convoy’s triumphant return to California—until they went to Oakland.The convoy participants made a crucial error when they decided to protest a local politician (who proposed an abortion bill they oppose) and rolled into the quiet Oakland neighborhood of Rockridge last Friday. As chronicled in a YouTube video by Rise Images, the truckers were flipped off, sworn at, impeded by a man standing in the road, and pelted with eggs.
The counterprotesters were well-resourced, with supply lines filled with eggs ready to be hurled against chrome and the unvaccinated. One trucker, angry over the yolk oozing down the side of his truck, got into a face-to-face with a mask-wearing resident who was happily tossing eggs.“Hey, you got a problem?” the enraged trucker asked the resident before adamantly telling him to “Get the fuck out of here.”“No,” the resident replied coolly.As the trucker walked away in a huff, the masked man calmly continued to pelt the truck with eggs. Attempting to exact revenge for the attack, the trucker unleashed his most fearsome weapon, his blaring horn. In response, the counterprotestors pulled out a full flat of eggs and, well, I’m sure you can put two and two together.The Daily Beast reported that the freedom-loving, vaccine-hating truckers were so rattled by the eggs that they called the police, who shrugged off their complaints. It’s been over two months since the big rigs left Adelanto, California, on Feb. 23, en route to a speedway a few hours outside of Washington, D.C., to protest mostly nonexistent COVID-19 regulations (they were too scared for an extended trip in downtown D.C.). The truckers had a whale of a time there. They set up a staging ground at a speedway in Hagerstown, Maryland, repeatedly circled the Beltway, took Ted Cruz for a fun little ride in a big old truck, were defeated by a single cyclist, and nearly tore themselves apart because of a DJ who called himself Ricky Bobby. The organizers decided to leave the area and travel to California to join other anti-vax protestors, like the Unity Project, in protesting a series of upcoming bills.
The group organized in opposition to COVID-19 health regulations, in particular the federal emergency declaration set in 2020. Almost all of these health regulations have been rolled back in the United States, but that matters little to the group, whose supporters and participants swim in a sea of conspiracies and right-wing grievances. The so-called “people’s convoy” is now camping out in the Sacramento Raceway. Here, much like they did in Hagerstown, they’ve set up a staging ground where they hold speeches, camp out, park their trucks, and game-plan who to annoy next. Since getting to California, the truckers’ newest tactic is protesting directly outside of politicians' homes. This has brought them deep into residential neighborhoods in California cities, and what brought them into combat against egg-wielding Oaklanders.
In the chat groups for participants and supporters of the convoy, the now-infamous Oakland incident was a sore spot for some supporters. “I am so sick of these leftists. I wish there is a way to ship them off to China,” wrote one. “They can try that egg-throwing there....” Another called them “child abusing pedos.”“How convenient was it that the flats of eggs just happened to be sitting on the sidewalk?” one man posted about the known public protest. “Appears they had advance notice.”Like any right-wing movement, infighting among the truckers is frequent, and the decision to return to California caused quite the spat. Some of those who’d been camping out in the Hagerstown parking lot didn't want to leave and actively pushed back on the organizer's decision and stayed.
The small group who stayed at first mostly just livestreamed and complained about conspiracies but eventually rebranded as the “American freedom convoy.” This group is now organizing convoys of their own. So now there exists both West and East Coast conspiratorial trucker convoys. The “American freedom convoy” recently headed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where they presented a plaque to Brian Brase, a former leader of the “people’s convoy,” who is now on the outs. Brase had been taking time away from the group upon their decision to leave the Speedway and finally split with the group recently. Now, on the front page of the “people’s convoy” website a note in bold red lettering reads “Brian Brase is no longer an organizer nor affiliated with The People’s Convoy and does not have the authority to speak on behalf of The People’s Convoy.” In a Facebook livestream from April 22, Brase said he was surprised by the message and that he “does not agree with a lot of what is going on" but urged his followers not to turn on the convoy. The convoys were inspired by the much larger and much more successful convoys in Canada, which shut down the nation’s capital for weeks and required a large police response to eventually clear them out. While the American convoy was able to get the attention of some media-hungry right-wing politicians, their protest has largely gone under the radar. But not so much for the people in Rockridge, who despite the incessant honking of the truckers, weren’t scared to tell them what they think.In a scene from the video, a group of teenagers pelted convoy vehicles with eggs and encouraged the anti-vaxxers to “roll their windows down.” Most didn’t, and those who did quickly saw their mistake. One conveyor was baited when the crowd heckled him with yells of “Coward!” “I’m a coward?” he asked angrily after rolling down his window. He was hit in the face with an egg almost immediately.Follow Mack Lamoureux on Twitter.