Washington, DC – Law enforcement are getting ready for the “Freedom Convoy” truck protest expected to roll into the nation’s capital ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address next week.
The DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has begun mobilizing 500 officers into Civil Disturbance Units (CDU) to put in place as of Wednesday, WTTG reported.
Days off have been limited for officers and construction on the giant fence around the entire U.S. Capitol complex was expected to begin on Monday, WTTG reported.
Truckers in Canada recently shut down Ottawa over vaccine mandates, but the multiple convoys of trucks expected to start rolling into DC later this week are protesting a wide range of Biden administration policies.
Bob Bolus, who owns a truck parts and towing business in Scranton, Pennsylvania, said the truckers in what had been dubbed the “Freedom Convoy” are protesting the President Biden’s vaccine mandates, skyrocketing fuel prices, and loose immigration policies, WTTG reported.
Bolus said he planned to depart home on Feb. 23 and head for downtown DC before heading to the Washington Capital Beltway (Interstate 495) with the goal of shutting it down.
“We will be along the Beltway where the Beltway will be shut down,” he vowed.
The activist said there were numerous convoys coming from multiple directions that would snarl and choke traffic across the whole DC, Maryland, and Virginia metropolitan area, WTTG reported.
“I’ll give you an analogy of that of a giant boa constrictor,” Bolus said. “That basically squeezes you, chokes you and it swallows you, and that’s what we’re going to do to DC.”
He said they planned to keep lanes available for first responders, but otherwise, the truck convoy wasn’t concerned about inconveniencing commuters, WTTG reported.
“There will be a lane open for emergency vehicles, they’ll be able to get in and out and all that,” Bolus explained. “We will not compromise anybody’s safety or health, one way or the other. As far as if they can’t get to work, geez that’s too bad.”
He said he had heard from hundreds of truckers who planned to participate but wouldn’t estimate how big he thought the Freedom Convoy would be, WTTG reported.
Bolus said multiple convoys coming to the protest had the goal of a Beltway shutdown.
He said he was personally willing to stay out there to keep the critical roadway shut down for a couple of days, WTTG reported.
DC Police Chief Robert Contee said he was working with federal partners to keep the city safe during the expected protests.
“There will be disruptions to traffic, that kind of thing,” Chief Contee said. “I think we need to be very candid with the public about some of the expectations based upon what we’ve seen in Ottawa.”
Maryland State Police (MSP) and Virginia State Police (VSP) said they were also monitoring the situation and collaborating, as the Beltway lies entirely in their jurisdictions, WTTG reported.
“The Virginia State Police has been and continues to monitor the situation and to communicate with our National Capital Region local, state and federal partners. This is standard practice any time the potential exists for a significant protest that could disrupt the safe and efficient flow of traffic on Virginia highways,” said VSP in a statement.
Security officials announced the decision to re-install the large black metal security fence around the U.S. Capitol complex that has been used several times since the Capitol riot before the arrival of the Freedom Convoy and the State of the Union on March 1, WTTG reported.
Critics of the security fence immediately raised objections when the trucks began to arrive filled with pieces of fencing.
However, police sources told The Police Tribune that since 9/11, the U.S. Capitol has always been put into a lockdown ahead of the State of the Union.
“For years, we parked big Metro buses end-to-end, parked bumper-to-bumper, all the way around the Capitol complex to serve as a temporary blockade during the State of the Union,” the retired police official explained.