You may have heard that the D.C. truckers convoy, having made it all the way out to the Pacific Northwest only to turn around and head back East, made it back to Washington this week. But if you live in the D.C. area, you’d be excused if this was news to you, since the whole operation seems to have just fizzled out.
The truckers were planning to sneak into downtown Washington the evening of the 19th, according to Zachary Petrizzo of the Daily Beast, but apparently couldn’t get their act together. Instead, they wound up simply brawling with each other around their campsites at the raceway in Hagerstown, Maryland, which has served as their base of operations.
The instructions for the planned invasion of D.C. came from David Riddell, aka “Santa,” the Ohio trucker who has fashioned himself into the de facto leader of the People’s Convoy, Petrizzo reports. It started with a heads-up on Wednesday evening: “Get ready to move in about 15-20 minutes when I tell you to,” Riddell told the convoy participants at the Hagerstown encampment, where they returned earlier this week. “Be back here at four o’clock in the afternoon [on Thursday] and be ready to roll at a moment’s notice.”
Washington state Sen. Emily Randall and RuralOrganizing.org's Matt Hildreth talk about what they're seeing and hearing while knocking on doors this week on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast
He added: “You guys are the new minutemen. When we roll out of here at night, [there] will be complete and total radio silence. There will be five people that know what we’re doing and know the route we are taking.”
On Thursday, however, nothing happened—probably because their plan had been publicized. Most of the convoy’s livestreamers spent the day Thursday complaining that the convoy’s operations shouldn’t be so transparent that they could be so easily exposed. Then, as everyone remained in their campsites that evening, quarrels began breaking out, as Petrizzo reported on Twitter:
Back in Hagerstown, a fight among convoy members has broken out, with one woman claiming a man punched her husband in the face. “Get the fuck out of our campsite,” the woman further yelled.
Some of the fighting made it onto a livestream:
Residents of the D.C. area breathed a sigh of relief when the convoy—which attempted to create problems for Beltway traffic, and did, but their efforts were difficult to distinguish from the city’s everyday congested roadways—trundled back to California, where it originated, in late March after fruitlessly circling the city and managing at best a few photo ops with Ted Cruz. They filed a lawsuit against the city claiming their First Amendment rights were trampled by transportation officials who blocked off their access to downtown exits.
Then, after being pelted with eggs while trying to intimidate legislators California, they continued on up to the Northwest, where they greeted protesters by firing off rounds at freeway overpasses. Once in Olympia, “Santa” declared that they would be returning to D.C., and this time they were pissed off.
You made fun of us, you placated us with cute little words, and you came out and had your little photo op meetings with us, that’s going to happen no more.
When we go back to D.C., 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! That’s all there is to it! We are going there and we will be heard!
I don’t think they understand the sincerity and the hearts of American Patriots today! We are totally fed up with tyranny!
It’s never been clear exactly what their demands are or what they are protesting, particularly since the original cause of the Canadian truck convoy that the “People’s Convoy” set out to imitate—to protest COVID-19-related health mandates—has largely been ameliorated.
What’s been clear all along, in fact, is that all of these convoys really are old-fashioned far-right agitprop intended to give the True Believers a cause to rally around while peddling their conspiracist propaganda.
“Santa” also indicated, in his speech to the convoy on Wednesday, that they have a plan to occupy D.C. inside the city limits and not to come out at all—one that could still be operable. He claimed he had performed “covert” reconnaissance ahead of the operation: “This is the day we waited for,” he added.
Asked by one supporter on Wednesday evening whether the convoy has an exit plan out of D.C. proper, Riddell said he has no desire to leave the area once the trucker crew is inside city limits.
“We are going to stay,” he confidently replied. “We don’t have no exit plan.”
However, as the Washington Post reported this week, the money to finance all this protesting may be about to run out. The right-wing operation funding the convoy, the American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom (AFCLF)—an operation overseen by a man who pleaded guilty to fraud—says it collected $1.89 million for the protests, with small donors providing most of the donations, though not necessarily most of the money. But that money is about to run out.
The AFCLF’s president told the Post that the foundation had stepped away from assisting the convoy with advocacy about a month ago and will be ceasing its financial work with the group sometime this week. He added that “not much funding remains from what was raised.”