A convoy of approximately 1,000 truckers departed from Adelanto, California, on February 23 in protest of government mandates related to COVID-19.

The People’s Convoy model themselves after the Canadian Freedom Convoy, which significantly impacted the Ottawa area’s traffic for several weeks. The People’s Convoy wants President Joe Biden to revoke the U.S. National Emergency Declaration initially signed by President Trump and recently extended by the Biden Administration.

“The message of The People’s Convoy is simple. The last twenty-three months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a rough road for all Americans to travel: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and – not least – financially,” a statement published online by organizers of The People’s Convoy reads. 

“With the advent of the vaccine and workable therapeutic agents, along with the hard work of so many sectors that contributed to declining COVID-19 cases and severity of illness, it is now time to re-open the country,” the statement continues. “The average American worker needs to be able to end-run the economic hardships of the last two years, and get back to the business of making bread – so they can pay their rents and mortgages and help jumpstart this economy.”

The People’s Convoy message is popular with many segments of the population. A Facebook page for the group counts more than 158,000 members at the time of this writing. But not everyone believes the government should rescind emergency powers at this point in the pandemic.

“I think the big chasm is a divide on who and what to believe in regard to science,” said Yolette Rios, a member of the group Hi-Desert Science Appreciators, during a telephone interview with The Dallas Express. “My group chooses to believe the CDC, we choose to believe WHO, and we choose to believe that our local governments have our best interests at heart.”

Rios is a retired school teacher in the desert community who said that the region was hard-hit by COVID-19, particularly in schools, which saw teachers, administrators, and students infected. 

“We’ve always looked at it as a public-health issue, not political,” Rios added. 

The National Emergency Declaration gave expanded powers to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to speed up dealing with outbreaks. The federal government has enacted mandates requiring vaccinations through the declaration, including rules that went into effect in January 2022 requiring federally-regulated workers to be vaccinated or face termination. 

The mandates were responsible for igniting the controversy in Canada as both that nation and the U.S. implemented mandates requiring truck drivers who cross the border to be vaccinated. A weeks-long blockade by truckers in front of the Ottawa Parliament Building was dispersed earlier this week during a three-day police operation. Police made over two hundred arrests, and more than seventy vehicles were impounded. 

What began as a small protest by a minority of Canadian truck drivers has now become a bi-national movement calling for the end of mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and other restrictions that organizers view as hampering individual freedoms.

Unlike the Canadian protests, The People’s Convoy has pledged to follow traffic laws and not block roads. The convoy will make an overnight stop in Glenrio, Texas, on February 25 for an overnight stay before continuing on I-40 on February 26, with a stop in Elk City, Oklahoma, that night. 

The People’s Convoy will arrive in the Washington, D.C. area on March 5 but will not be entering the Capitol area directly. Instead, the convoy will stage outside of D.C. at an undisclosed location in the Beltway. Organizers said that residents “won’t experience more traffic than they do every day” due to the convoy.