New York Daily News: MANHATTAN By Dave Goldiner – Capitol Police warned Wednesday that so-called “Freedom Convoys” of truckers protesting COVID vaccine rules may seek to cause widespread disruptions coinciding with President Biden’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.

The police warned lawmakers in a memo that they are tracking plans for nationwide traffic snarling protests inspired by the right-wing anti-vaxxer rallies that crippled Canada and blocked key trade routes in recent weeks.

“These convoys …. make cause disruptions on and around roadways in the Washington DC area,” the memo read and may culminate on March 1 for the annual address given by the president to both chambers of Congress.

The Pentagon is expected to approve the deployment of 700 to 800 unarmed National Guard troops to the nation’s capital, a US official said Tuesday after the District of Columbia government and the US Capitol Police requested the National Guard’s assistance.

The troops would be mainly used to help control traffic and are expected to come from the district’s National Guard and three states, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss aid not yet formally approved.

Separate truck convoys in the US have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund — all with different starting points, departure dates and routes.

One report from Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania, suggested the protest was off to a slow start with a planned convoy headed for Washington attracting just one truck.

Truck drivers and supporters gather a day before a ‘People’s Convoy’ departs for Washington, DC to protest COVID-19 mandates on February 22, 2022 in Adelanto, California.
Truck drivers and supporters gather a day before a ‘People’s Convoy’ departs for Washington, DC to protest COVID-19 mandates on February 22, 2022 in Adelanto, California – Mario Tama/Getty Images

It remains to be seen if any US convoys would seek to actively shut down Washington’s streets the way their Canadian counterparts did in Ottawa. Some convoy organizers have spoken of plans to briefly roll through the city, then focus on shutting down the Beltway, which encircles the capital.

People pose for a photo as truck drivers and supporters gather one day before a ‘People’s Convoy’ departs for Washington, DC to protest COVID-19 mandates on February 22, 2022 in Adelanto, California.

People pose for a photo as truck drivers and supporters gather one day before a ‘People’s Convoy’ departs for Washington, DC to protest COVID-19 mandates on February 22, 2022 in Adelanto, California – Mario Tama/Getty Images

People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis, in a video testimonial on the group’s website, said the current COVID vaccine “is not proven yet” but supported individual choice on whether to take it or not. Landis said the convoy was open to all vehicles and said the primary goal was to pressure Biden to lift the national state of emergency.

“We want this government to bring back the Constitution,” Landis said. “We do not want to be under a dictatorship, communism-style regime, like where we are right now.”

A state of emergency in the US was declared by former President Donald Trump in March 2020. Last week, Biden announced his intention to extend it beyond the current March 1 expiration date.

Dave Goldiner is a political reporter at the New York Daily News. A 30-year newsroom veteran, he believes he is the only reporter to cover both the September 11 terror attacks and the death and funeral of South African freedom icon Nelson Mandela on the ground.

Top Feature Photo: Heavy vehicles, including garbage trucks and snowplows, are set near the entrance to Capitol Hill at Pennsylvania Avenue and 3rd Street NW in Washington, Tuesday, Feb 22, 2022, amid reports that trucker protests will arrive on March 1, the day of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address – J Scott Applewhite/AP