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“People’s Convoy” | Antivax truckers take inspiration from Ottawa and will ride to Washington

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(Adelanto) A few hundred truckers and protesters opposed to the health measures implemented against COVID-19 in the United States gathered Wednesday morning in southern California to form a “convoy” in the direction of the American capital, to 4200 km away.

Organizers of this “people’s convoy,” backed by numerous conservative anti-vaccine and anti-mask organizations, planned to arrive on the outskirts of the capital Washington on March 5 for a show of force.


PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK T. FALLON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Antivax activists show their colors in Adelanto, California on February 23, 2022, before a truck convoy departs for Washington.

“It’s time to reopen the country”, they proclaim on their website, where the amount of donations received reached Wednesday morning more than 460,000 dollars according to these emulators of Canadian demonstrators who, after a similar convoy, blocked the capital Ottawa for more than three weeks.

“It is time for elected officials to work together with American workers to restore freedom”, adds the manifesto, which calls in particular for “the end of the national state of emergency” decreed by the government to fight against COVID-19 and “the restoration of the Constitution”, according to them flouted by health measures.


PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK T. FALLON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Canadian inspiration of the “People’s Convoy” is seen in this composite flag of the American and Canadian flags, waved by an antivax activist, before the departure of the People’s Convoy, in Adelanto, California, on February 23, 2022.

This slogan drew some 200 vehicles into the parking lot of a stadium in Adelanto, a small town in southern California, most of them adorned with American flags, banners proclaiming “freedom”. It is from here that the convoy to Washington must leave.

Shane Class, 48, an inveterate supporter of ex-President Donald Trump, has already traveled 1,300 km to come with his wife from Idaho (in the northwest of the country) and intends to drive to the capital to demonstrate “peacefully”.


PHOTOGRAPH BY PATRICK T. FALLON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The “People’s Convoy” must leave Adelanto, California, to go to Washington on March 5, 4200 km away.

Proudly sporting a cap bearing the image of Donald Trump and carrying suitcases stamped with the star-spangled banner, he believes that “our government must begin to understand that the people want to regain the freedom provided for in the Constitution”.

“I think we are all here for a different reason, but it comes down to the same thing: freedom,” he insists.

Brian Brase, one of the truckers placed at the head of the convoy, wants “a return to normal”. “We challenge the emergency measures that have been implemented and want an end to all mask-wearing and (mandatory) vaccination orders for federal employees and caregivers,” he says.

The refusal of vaccines against COVID-19 and the wearing of masks has become a fault line within American society, even a marker of political affiliation.

Several Republican governors have thus invoked the protection of individual freedoms to introduce bans on the obligation to wear a mask in their states.



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