“The convoy is not [going into D.C.],” Brian Brase, the group’s organizer, said from inside the lead truck. “The convoy’s going to continue its normal operation. This truck will be going into DC”
Though many pandemic-related restrictions at the federal and local levels have been blocked or rescinded, the convoy organizers have rallied supporters by calling mandates an infringement on their freedoms.
“There ain’t no ignoring a senator riding in the lead truck,” Brase told the crowd at the Hagerstown Speedway earlier. “That’s basically an endorsement of what we’re doing.”
“Your voice is being heard,” Cruz told the crowd as truckers, drivers and supporters held up their phones and cameras to capture his speech. “What the men and women want here is for the government to leave you the hell alone. … That is the most American sentiment you could imagine.”
Brase said the convoy will continue to protest until mandates for health workers, federal employees and military personnel are eliminated, but he warned the convoy against heading into the capital.
“If you deviate from the plan, meaning you decide to break rank and bring your happy butts down to DC proper… you are not representing the People’s Convoy in doing that,” he said. “Do not do that. Stick to the plan… It’s working. They’re coming here now.”
Brase has insisted that the group won’t leave the region until the mandates are lifted. The convoy of big rigs, RVs and pickups began circling the Beltway on Sunday, repeating the demonstration on Monday and Tuesday. The group rested on Wednesday due to rainy weather and concerns about safety on the roads. Thursday would be the fourth day of protest on the Beltway.
Brase and other convoy leaders met with Cruz and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Tuesday morning in the Capitol to discuss their demands and grievances. While no direct action came from the meeting, Brase said he saw it as a step in the right direction.
Convoy leadership also met on Tuesday afternoon with some Republican members of the House Transportation Committee to discuss their shared concerns over pandemic-related mandates. Along with ending federal mandates, convoy members are calling for an end to the national emergency declaration that was first issued by President Donald Trump in March 2020 and later extended by President Biden.
The group’s leaders have also called for Congress to hold hearings investigating the government’s response to the pandemic, and urged people around the country to start organizing in their state capitals.
The group came to the DC region over the weekend with some of its members coming from Adelanto, Calif., and have set up at the Hagerstown Speedway, more than an hour outside of the city.
Law enforcement authorities in Virginia and Maryland said there have been no reported incidents from the convoy’s circling of the Beltway other than some minor congestion. The convoy said it was joined by another 150 cars and trucks when they reached Hagerstown Speedway.
There have been no arrests, towed vehicles or infractions as a result of the convoy, officials said.
It is not exactly clear when the convoy plans to leave the DC region. Brase, a 37-year-old trucker from Ohio, had said at one point they planned to stay in Hagerstown through at least Saturday but has also said they may stay longer to get more meetings with politicians.