People’s convoy drove through Springfield to protest vaccination mandates

American flags fluttered in the wind as a 15-mile convoy of hundreds of truckers passed through Springfield on Interstate 44 Monday morning.

Leaders of the People’s Convoy call themselves a “peaceful and unified transcontinental movement” of truckers, according to a press release. The convoy, which began its journey in Adelanto, Calif., on Wednesday, Feb. 23, is en route to the Capital Beltway, an interstate highway that circles Washington DC. They plan to arrive on Saturday.

The group wants to protest in favor of reopening the country by “lifting all mandates and ending the state of emergency” linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The US Department of Defense recently approved the use of 700 National Guard personnel and 50 large tactical vehicles to help amid concerns about major traffic disruptions in the Washington DC area.

Popular convoy supporters gather on an overpass at Division Street and I-44 as the convoy passed through Springfield en route to Washington DC on Monday, February 28, 2022.

In Springfield, more than 100 people gathered on the lawn of the Crossway Baptist Church at 2900 N. Barnes Ave. to watch the convoy pass.

Springfield’s David Wright was among the crowd. He arrived at the church around 10 a.m. While he could only watch the convoy in Springfield, he said he would “love to follow them all the way.”

A former truck driver himself, Wright said drivers don’t need warrants that make their jobs more difficult.

The People’s Convoy follows the actions of Canada’s Freedom Convoy, which began in January. Likewise, the Freedom Convoy, made up of hundreds of truckers and protesters, headed for Canada’s capital, Ottawa.

The drivers were protesting a federal regulation requiring truckers entering Canada from the United States to show proof of vaccination.

“We don’t get (the government’s) attention any other way,” Wright said of the convoy. “(The People’s Convoy) does this to draw someone’s attention to changing things and they all stick together during (the trip), and I like that.”

The People’s Convoy is supported by The Unity Project, The America Project, Advocates for Citizens’ Rights, US Freedom Flyers, American Foundation for Civil Liberties and Freedoms, and various faith groups.

More than 100 people gathered along I-44 at the Crossway Baptist Church in northeast Springfield to support the people's motorcade as it passed through Springfield en route to Washington DC on Monday, February 28, 2022.

Monday’s trip started in Vinita, Oklahoma, and the plan was to end in Sullivan for one night. Updated information on the convoy route can be found on the People’s Convoy website, Facebook group and Instagram.

Greta Cross is the current affairs reporter for the Springfield News-Leader. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gretacrossphoto. Story idea? Email him at [email protected]

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