Hundreds of people lined up along the highway at a city in the Mojave Desert of California to cheer on the launch of the "People's Convoy" of trucks and other vehicles on their way to protest in Washington, D.C.
Videos on social media showed hundreds of supporters bringing supplies to help kick off the convoy from Adelanto, a small city in San Bernardino County. Many waved pro-Trump flags, anti-Biden flags, and even some Canadian flags in reference to the trucker blockade in Ottawa.
The convoy is scheduled to arrive in Washington, D.C., on March 5, when President Joe Biden will be giving his State of the Union address to Congress.
Organizers said the truckers are protesting against mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and high gas prices. They are also demanding that the government end the emergency declaration first begun under the Trump administration.
“To the truck drivers around the world: Now is your time to stand up. Now is your time to usher in a renaissance time of freedom,” said organizer Brian Brase at the rally. “Do not bow down.”
The website for the group said they had already collected close to half a million dollars in donations.
“Funds will be used to reimburse fuel and hard costs of the trucker, and the fund is being handled by volunteer accountants and overseen by a law firm,” the website said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that hundreds of cars joined the convoy but that the number of actual big rigs counted less than 40.
The National Guard said that 700 troops have been sent to the D.C. area as a precaution.
The Pentagon said the National Guard troops called to the capital won't be armed or participating in law enforcement duties, but instead will be primarily sent for traffic control.
"We're not out here to be a hostile group, we're not out here to fight with police," said Bob Bolus, a trucker from Pennsylvania who is also headed to D.C., to KTLA-TV.
“Let’s put it this way: We’re not shutting the traffic down today. If we don’t have a resolution from the government, to the rights that they’re taking from us, I will predict in the future it will get shut down," Bolus explained.
Here's more about the convoy launch in Adelanto:
Truckers slated to gather in Adelanto Wednesday as convoy heads from California to D.C. www.youtube.com