A massive convoy of semi-trucks and other vehicles is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C. on March 5, 2022. The truckers and supporters are part of an activist group called The People’s Convoy, inspired by truckers in Canada protesting COVID-19 mandates.
Details On the People’s Convoy
On February 28, 2022, the People’s Convoy made its way through Oklahoma.
The People’s Convoy, formerly known as the — US Freedom Convoy Ottawa D.C. 2020, set out on its mission on February 23, 2022, from Adelanto, California. Its participants are demanding that the United States government lift Proclamation 9994, the Declaration of National Emergency Regarding the COVID-19 Pandemic. Their Facebook group has over 260k members.
The People’s Convoy organizers see COVID-19 mandates as unconstitutional and a threat to their freedom. Additionally, the group insists that it is law-abiding. According to open-source research, there are thousands of vehicles in the caravan.
The American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedom along with the Unity Project are official partners of the People’s Convoy.
The convoy has held rallies in the U.S. since its February 23 launch day, primarily protesting COVID-19 mandates. Thus far, the People’s Convoy has raised over 1 million dollars.
Maureen Steele is the national organizer for The People’s Convoy. In her interviews, Steele discusses how they are battling tyranny, how she talks to truckers in Canada regularly, and how they want congressional hearings on the COVID-19 pandemic. Brian Brase, the co-organizer for the People’s Convoy, echoes similar sentiments for the group as Steele.
Reviewing the People’s Convoy on Social Media
Our analysis of the People’s Convoy Facebook pages and supporting pages on other social media platforms shows that supporters generally have conservative and libertarian views. In addition, there have also been some posts supportive of QAnon’s conspiracies and conspiracies about the war in Ukraine. However, there are also posts about how truckers can buy the Ukrainian flag to support Ukraine’s fight against the Russian Federation.
Analysts also note that people who want to become members of the group can easily join. A lack of verification leaves these Facebook groups open to scams from bots and fraudsters.
For example, in one of the groups, Facebook user, Chester Wun, is offering $500 gift cards to truckers who make short videos about their community.
A review of Mr. Wun’s Facebook page indicates minimal activity and no posts about truckers. In addition, queries about the group, Honk, return no relevant data, suggesting Wun attempts to scam users in the group.
Further, in the People’s Convoy Official Facebook group, members are joining every minute. Overwatch notes that the bot accounts can quickly enter the group because there is no verification system in place.
In the Freedom Convoy USA (2022) IN group, user Lucy Molly fraudulently claimed to be making $3,000 a day and provided her Telegram account so people could reach out to find how to replicate her income for themselves.
The tactic used by Lucy is like other fraudsters on social media, promising social media users major financial returns for limited work.
Other Trucker Convoy Groups
In early February 2022, Facebook removed a group from its platform called Convoy to D.C. 2022 for promoting QAnon conspiracy theories, which violates the website’s terms of service.
Also, in February 2022, another group called the Freedom Convoy intended to drive across the country and congest traffic in Washington D.C. on March 1, 2022, during President Biden’s State of the Union speech. That group, however, did not receive the support it intended, and decided to abandon its plans for D.C. Open-source research indicates that some people participating in the Freedom Convoy chose to join the People’s Convoy.
A Brief Overview of What Happened in Canada
From January 28, 2022, through February 2022, truckers in Ottawa, Canada, protested COVID-19 mandates, with some participants blocking trade routes. The protest, which began on January 28, 2022, cost Ottawa 30 million dollars.
As a result of the protests, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared a national public order emergency on February 14, 2022. The order gave Trudeau the authority to freeze the bank accounts of people involved in the protest and remove the blockades obstructing trade routes.
The People’s Convoy has no intention of entering downtown Washington D.C., which indicates that the caravan’s appearance in the nation’s capital will likely cause little controversy. The organizers say they won’t enter Downtown D.C., so they do not impede emergency services or raise significant security concerns similar to the January 6, 2021 protests and riots at the Capitol building.
However, analysts note that other trucker convoy offshoots could potentially join the People’s Convoy before March 5, 2022, arrive in D.C., and congest traffic, which correlates with the disbanded Freedom Convoy’s initial goals. Such a situation could create an incident in Washington D.C., which leads to a response from law enforcement or other authorities.
After reviewing dozens of live streams from truckers participating in the People’s Convoy, analysts assess the level of risk to D.C. as low on March 5, 2022. We saw no indicators of support for violence or unlawful behavior.
The People’s Convoy will receive mixed press coverage between now and March 5, 2022, when the convoy arrives in the vicinity of Washington D.C. Conservative opinion personalities and media outlets will leverage this demonstration as an outward cry from American citizens to restrain the government’s implied over-reach of power infringing on constitutional rights and civil liberties. Liberal media outlets and personalities will cover this event with the characterization that the participants are synonymous with the January 6, 2021, rioters that violated the law by illegally entering the Capitol grounds, vandalizing the building, and stealing property.