‘Basically an Endorsement’: Cruz Rides With Anti-Mandate ‘Freedom Convoy’ Truckers
19:53 GMT 10.03.2022 (Updated: 13:28 GMT 06.08.2022)
© Sputnik ScreenshotUS Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) rides with the Freedom Convoy anti-mandate protest around the Capitol Beltway near Washington, DC, on March 10, 2022
After giving his support to the anti-mandate protests in Canada spearheaded by truckers last month, US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has met with a group of Americans inspired toward a similar effort.
“Your voice is being heard,” the Texas senator told members of the Freedom Convoy at their base of operations in Hagerstown, Maryland, a city about 60 miles north of Washington, DC.
“What the men and women want here is for the government to leave you the hell alone,” he said. “That is the most American sentiment you could imagine.”
On Tuesday, Brase and other leaders of the Freedom Convoy met with Cruz, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and several members of the House Transportation Committee at the US Capitol to discuss the group’s grievances. However, Cruz’s Thursday visit to their base of operations clearly sent a different signal.
Thank you to every trucker who is standing up for freedom for every man, woman, and child in America! pic.twitter.com/DJeoHtWEXy— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 10, 2022
“There ain’t no ignoring a senator riding in the lead truck,” Brase said to his fellow protesters. “That’s basically an endorsement of what we’re doing.”
The group of several dozen big-rig trucks and other vehicles arrived in the DC area last week with the intent of recreating in the US capital what had happened in the Canadian capital last month. Like their Canadian brethren, the US demonstrators are protesting mandates requiring people to get vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the deadly illness COVID-19, and have demanded an end to the national emergency declaration issued when the pandemic began in March 2020.
While many localities have adopted a variety of mandates applying to certain circumstances, such as eating in restaurants, there is no federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate and vaccination remains purely voluntary. On Thursday, the Biden administration announced it was extending a federal mask mandate for passengers and workers on airlines and public transit until April 18.
© REUTERS / STEPHANIE KEITHA written message reading "follow me to D.C." is seen on the back of a truck as hundreds of vehicles including 18-wheeler trucks, RVs and other cars are parked as part of a rally at Hagerstown Speedway after some of them arrived as part of a convoy that travelled across the country headed to Washington D.C. to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related mandates and other issues in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., March 5, 2022.
A written message reading "follow me to D.C." is seen on the back of a truck as hundreds of vehicles including 18-wheeler trucks, RVs and other cars are parked as part of a rally at Hagerstown Speedway after some of them arrived as part of a convoy that travelled across the country headed to Washington D.C. to protest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) related mandates and other issues in Hagerstown, Maryland, U.S., March 5, 2022.
© REUTERS / STEPHANIE KEITH
In Ottawa, dozens of truckers blocked streets and caused chaos for weeks, and a separate protest on the US-Canada border succeeded at bringing a substantial part of trade between the two nations to a halt before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government invoked extraordinary measures to disperse them. However, the US truckers have changed their plans in recent days, and earlier this week decided to circle the “Capitol Beltway,” a roughly circular interstate highway just outside the city.
“If you deviate from the plan, meaning you decide to break rank and bring your happy butts down to DC proper ... you are not representing the People’s Convoy in doing that,” Brase told the truckers on Thursday. “Do not do that. Stick to the plan ... It’s working. They’re coming here now.”
In DC, the city government has mobilized 700 National Guardsmen in case the truckers do bring their protests into the city, wary of a repeat of Ottawa in the city just 14 months after Trump supporters staged an insurrection at the US Capitol in which five people were killed.