EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSQuestions Surround Trucker Protest In D.C.
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Heath Harrison
Web Producer: Bethany Simmons
Also Contributing: USA Today, Bethany Simmons
Reported: Oct. 9, 2013 3:09 PM EDT
Updated: Oct. 9, 2013 9:14 PM EDT
Questions have been raised regarding a planned trucker protest slated to begin in Washington, D.C. on Friday, following differing claims by individuals claiming to be organizers for the event.
Earl Conlon, a Georgia trucker had been interviewed by U.S. News and World Report on Monday and identified by the magazine as an organizer handling logistics for the “Ride for the Constitution” event. In the U.S. News interview, he said the group would circle the nation’s capital three lanes deep, starting on Friday, in an effort to slow down traffic. Conlon had also said the group would seek to “arrest” members of Congress. Conlon had appeared on multiple outlets, promoting the event.
However, in an interview with The Washington Post on Tuesday, Conlon switched his stance and said the group does not plan to shut down traffic. He claimed that the event was a hoax simply designed to “stir the feathers of the mainstream media.”
Conlon told the Post he was now not sure if he would be in Washington on Friday.
The D.C web-based journal Politico reported Wednesday that other organizers of the ride are now condemning Conlon’s claim that the group would “arrest” Congressmen.
Following the comments, Internet radio host Pete Santilli, who Politico named as an official spokesman for the ride, said Conlon should not be quoted as speaking for the group. Santelli said the event is planned as a “photo op for the media” to initiate a larger protest.
Politico said the organizers have made complaints about various issues impacting the trucking industry, but also have pushed false claims about President Barack Obama’s birthplace and have accused the president of “treason” for funneling weapons to Syrian rebels.
According to Politico, mainstream trucking organizations such as the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations, are disavowing any connection to the group or the event.
“The individuals leading this particular effort have no direct affiliation with trucking and appear to be using truckers in order to gain media attention and air other political grievances,” OOIDA said in a statement released Tuesday. “We do not support assembling in an unlawful, unpermitted manner, committing crimes, making threats on our lawmakers, or behaving in such a way to cast safe, professional truck drivers in a negative light.”
Virginia and Maryland State Police told Politico they are aware of plans for the event and are prepared to keep roadways safe.
Truck drivers are planing a three-day slowdown on the D.C. Beltway in an effort to "restore our Constitutional Republic."
The truckers said they are upset by the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, fuel prices, regulations, President Obama and "the corruption that is destroying America.”
As part of a "gas roots" campaign, they plan to convoy to D.C., then slowdown traffic on I-495 for three days beginning Friday.
The group has created a Twitter account (@T2SDA – for Truckers to Shut Down America which you can follow here) and will be using an identical hashtag (#T2SDA) for ongoing conversations about the rally.
While its not clear just how many truckers plan to join in the rally, some organizers are expecting thousands of participants. It is also unknown whether the sheer volume of truckers will slow traffic, if they plan to actually halt traffic or if they plan to just honk at a specific time.
* USA Today contributed to this story
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