Members of a truck convoy are moving through the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Sunday, with a long line of cars and semitrucks driving along the Beltway in protest of COVID-19 mandates.
Chopper4 spotted congestion on the Outer Loop of the Beltway, but no unusually significant delays were reported by 1:40 p.m.
Onlookers with flags and signs stood on overpasses watching demonstrators passing through the Rockville, Maryland, area, heading toward Interstate 495.
Our news partners at WTOP report that it took the length of the main convoy about 35 minutes to drive past a spot near Clarksburg Premium Outlets and many police officers were spotted nearby. Drivers are now on the Outer Loop of the Beltway.
Organizers say the People’s Convoy group planned to circle the Capital Beltway twice on Sunday then return to Hagerstown, where the group began gathering Friday.
Maryland State Police said troopers are deployed to address any violations of law.
“Law enforcement personnel are working to maintain the flow of traffic and alleviate congestion” as the convoy travels around the region, Maryland State Police said.
D.C. officials said the convoy is expected to cause some traffic delays and that the Metropolitan Police Department may close roads to minimize impact.
“Beltway here we come,” the group said in a Facebook post Sunday morning. A long line of vehicles departed from the Hagerstown Speedway, then drove to the D.C. area via Interstates including 81 and 270.
It’s unclear how disruptive the protests may be. Officials in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have said they are monitoring potential demonstrations and brought in extra resources to assist.
News4’s Aimee Cho reports as the D.C. area braces to see what happens next.
Virginia State Police said officers are prepared for potential convoys in the Capital region and will try to mitigate impacts on traffic. The Maryland State Highway Administration warned drivers about congestion.
The People’s Convoy group “has been working with local and state law enforcement to find the best time to travel,” spokesperson Lynne Kristensen said.
The D.C. area is the last publicized stop for the People’s Convoy, which drove across the country to protest against COVID-19-related mandates.
“I mean, this is talking about the future of America,” one protester said. “What wouldn’t you do to save that?”
The convoy picked up hundreds of cars and several trucks since the group left a rural parking lot in Adelanto, California, on Feb. 22, NBC News reported.
A long line of trucks prepares to make its way into the D.C. region to protest mask and vaccine mandates. News4’s Shomari Stone shows what’s coming Saturday.
The group staged in Hagerstown on Friday evening. On Saturday morning, Chopper4 filmed a long line of 18-wheelers and other vehicles surrounded by supporters on foot outside the Hagerstown Speedway. Two cranes hoisted a large American flag as several semitrucks drove underneath. Plans to leave Hagerstown on Saturday were delayed.
Photos show people carrying American flags, plus signs or flags in support of former President Donald Trump or with anti-President Joe Biden slogans outside the Hagerstown Speedway.
Fireworks popped in the sky and numerous people gathered to hold up a giant America flag on Saturday night, the images show.
D.C.’s homeland security department says the convoy could disrupt traffic around the District this weekend. Organizers previously said they do not plan on shutting down the Beltway or other roads.
Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, multiple protest groups have planned to come to the District in recent weeks. So far, there have been no significant disruptions to traffic.
Federal and local law enforcement have repeatedly said they are aware truck convoys plan to visit the area, and those agencies are prepared.
Around 700 National Guard troops, about 400 from D.C. and up to 300 from outside the District, were made available to “provide support at designated traffic posts, provide command and control, and cover sustainment requirements” through Monday, the defense department said.
Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.