Members Only | February 24, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

For now, copycat convoys sputter out

The con keeps rolling, even if the trucks do not

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Despite weeks of hype by the likes of Fox News and Steve Bannon, the various US copycat groups trying to replicate the siege of Ottawa show little sign of gelling into a cohesive force. 

Nevertheless, the publicity surrounding the convoys has opened up yet another conduit to right-wing radicalization. 

The convoys have tried to market themselves as a nonpartisan grassroots movement opposed to pandemic public health measures, but it’s increasingly obvious that the convoys are a pet project of the extreme right. 

Far from being focused on pandemic restrictions, which are already relaxing nationwide, organizers are working from the standard grab bag of conspiratorial grievances, from Joe Biden’s alleged illegitimacy to supposedly nefarious activities on the border. 


Trucking is a highly regulated industry. Authorities ranging from the California Highway Patrol to the White House have signaled their willingness to enforce the law and impose consequences on illegal protests. 


Copycat convoys are sputtering out because organizers are having a tough time recruiting truckers. Bob Bolus, the organizer of a soi disant “convoy” departing from Scranton, Pa., initially bragged that he and his group of 20 truckers were going to shut down the Beltway, choking the US capital like a boa constrictor strangling its prey. 

But by the time he hit the road on Wednesday, Bolus had reportedly marshaled only one rig, his own. Bolus reportedly scaled back his ambitions, announcing that he and car and truck acolytes were instead planning on going with the flow of traffic. 

The lack of rigs is a blow to the convoys. 

The 20-ton vehicles served as blockades, lodging, noise factories and more. The siege of Ottawa drew 4,000 trucks, but there is no sign that all the US convoys combined have anything close to that number. 

Just 40 rigs left Adelanto, California on Wednesday. The convoy is ostensibly bound for DC, but it’s not clear how many of those drivers had committed to keep going after an upcoming rally in Arizona. 

If they do make it to DC, the drivers will meet with stiff resistance. 

While powerful and versatile, truck blockades are hardly unstoppable. If the trucks can’t get into downtown, a convoy is just another protest. 


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Just a few well-placed barricades can keep the trucks out of the core. 

In the District of Columbia, National Guard members and local police are already stationed at key intersections to enforce DC’s long-standing ban on trucks in the capital. 

“No truckers were ever really coming except the fringest of the fringe,” said DC-based extremism researcher Amanda Moore. “So then you’re asking people to drive their random regular vehicles here and to what end? It’s an insane thing to do.”

Recruiting for the convoys has surely become a tougher sell after Trudeau’s crackdown cleared out the Canadian capital and froze the bank accounts of the occupiers. 

The truckers in Ottawa exploited their followers’ ignorance, telling them what they were doing was legal, or at worst a ticketing offense. 

As we saw in Canada, the state has massive powers that it can bring to stop an illegal occupation. 

Trucking is a highly regulated industry. Authorities ranging from the California Highway Patrol to the White House have signaled their willingness to enforce the law and impose consequences on illegal protests. 


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The truckers could be risking not only their rigs, which can cost as much as a house, but their commercial drivers’ licenses as well.

The Canadian convoy took advantage of the complacency of local authorities to lay siege to a city. American cities are unlikely to make the same mistake in the near future. 

However, the siege of Ottawa has highlighted the tactical potential of truck blockades. We may see them again in a new context. 

The convoy has also captured popular imagination, leading ordinary people into online chats with hardened extremists including members of the Proud Boys and other hate groups. 

Convoys are a lucrative fundraising concept, so the idea is swelling the coffers of the extreme right whether the copycat convoys gel or not. 

The con keeps rolling, even if the trucks do not. 


Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.

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