Some members of the US trucker convoy are taking their fight out of their cabs and into the courtroom.
Sixteen members of the US trucker convoy are reportedly suing Washington DC, claiming their First Amendment rights were violated when DC Metropolitan Police shut down exits leading into the city on the days of their demonstration earlier in the year.
According to the plaintiffs, the city shut down avenues into the city and on four occasions turned convoy participants away from entering the district. They claim the city's justification for shutting down the access points is "unconstitutionally vague on its face because it allows the District unfettered discretion to refuse to grant Plaintiffs access to the District, thereby depriving Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights to travel and free speech."
The convoy was certainly not the first time Washington DC shut down a major entry point into the city, and the district maintains restricted truck routes as standard policy. The shutdowns on those days also impacted all drivers, not just the truck convoy.
The lawsuit goes on to blame two deaths on the police blockades, referencing an incident in March in which a speeding driver lost control of their car and slammed into two other vehicles before bursting into flames. Two died in the accident, but it appears unrelated to the blockades.
The truckers spent weeks camping at Hagerstown Speedway in Maryland, punctuating their downtime with occasional jaunts on I-495, which surrounds Washington DC. During their drives they would often lay on their horns and sometimes box-in and harass DC drivers, sometimes calling them "Antifa”.
The largely liberal DC-area drivers did not take kindly to the truckers taking up space on the already crowded highways around the district, frequently flashing middle fingers at the protesters or mocking them. One man slowed the convoy to a crawl by riding his bicycle at the head of a column of trucks while they traversed a narrow DC street.
The convoy's goals were nebulous at the outset but later somewhat-settled on two main points; ending the US state of emergency established in response to the coronavirus, and "honour" the 13 US troops who died while evacuating people from Afghanistan during the US pullout.
Unfortunately for the truckers, the war in Ukraine began just as they were setting out to begin their protest, starving the movement of the oxygen it needed to draw more outraged participants into its ranks.
After weeks of driving around and accomplishing little more than earning a few meet and greets with Republican lawmakers and burning a ludicrous amount of gas, the truckers left DC and headed west.
The convoy participants did not fare much better out west, particularly in Oakland, California, where locals met them with strings of curses and hurled eggs at their cabs. They promptly left the city.
Now it seems the truckers are heading back to DC, this time "with a backbone”.
Convoy leader David Riddell, told members in Olympia, Washington, that they would return to DC and this time they would be taken seriously.
"When we left, you guys [everyone] laughed at us, you made fun of us, you placated us with little—cute little words. You came out and had your little photo-op meetings with us–that’s going to happen no more. We are done listening to your lies," he said. "We bought them for a little bit. We thought you guys actually believed in what we were standing for and we actually believed you were going to do what we asked you to do as our representatives."
Mr Riddell seemed to be both addressing DC residents as well as the handful of Republican lawmakers who gave them an afternoon of attention.
The convoy participants reportedly will once again camp out at the Hagerstown Speedway upon their return to the district.
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