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Homeland Security warns of potential trucker protest at Super Bowl, monitoring possible convoy headed to DC

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Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security issued a warning about a potential truck protest developing at Sunday's Super Bowl LVI in California. The DHS acknowledged that the possible event appears "purely aspirational" at this time. Still, the agency noted that it will monitor potential vehicle-oriented protests, including a prospective trucker convoy heading to Washington, D.C.

The DHS is concerned about a possible protest this Super Bowl weekend in the Inglewood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Authorities are wary of an Ottawa-like "Freedom Convoy" trucker protest near the SoFi Stadium — the site of Super Bowl LVI.

On Tuesday, the DHS said it had “received reports of a convoy of truckers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers,” according to Yahoo News.

"While there are currently no indications of planned violence or civil unrest, if hundreds of trucks converge in a major metropolitan city, the convoy could potentially severely disrupt transportation, federal government and law enforcement operations, and emergency services through gridlock and potential counterprotests," the DHS said, according to ABC News.

"However, as of the release of this notice, this event appears to be purely aspirational because the event is only being discussed online and we lack any information indicating the event is actually being organized," the bulletin said, but added that the situation could "change quickly however, particularly since there are online discussions that suggest holding an event at a specific location near the Super Bowl on game day."

At a press conference Tuesday, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said there are no credible threats to the upcoming Super Bowl.

"We have no information of a specific credible threat against the Super Bowl," Mayorkas told reporters at the Los Angeles Convention Center. "What this is all about, is planning and preparation to prevent any incident from occurring."

Homeland Security stated in the notice, “The group intends to start in California as early as mid-February and travel to Washington, D.C., as late as mid-March, reportedly gathering truckers as they travel across the country."

"At this time, we have no indication that individuals discussing participating in these activities in the United States are engaged in anything other than First Amendment-protected activity," said in the "unclassified and for official use only" DHS document. "Nonetheless, DHS remains concerned that these events could have significant public safety implications or potentially be exploited by ideologically motivated actors to potentially act or encourage others to act violently."

A DHS source told Yahoo News that the U.S. trucker convoy "is absolutely a real concern."

"They are definitely going to follow the Canadian model and shut down Washington,” the Homeland Security source explained.

Facebook has already banned the "Convoy to DC 2022" page on the social network, which had roughly 137,000 members before it was deleted.

In Canada, the Freedom Convoy of a group of truckers who drove from various areas to converge on the capital city of Ottawa. The convoy of trucks from across Canada and the U.S. began arriving in Ottawa on Jan. 28 and have vowed to park their vehicles near Parliament Hill until all COVID-19 restrictions and mandates have been repealed.

The Freedom Convoy has been supported by many, including several celebrities. However, the peaceful protest has also been compared to "fascism."

Ottawa Police have confiscated fuel, and the city's mayor has declared a state of emergency.

GoFundMe took down a fundraising campaign for the truckers, which prompted Republican lawmakers to threaten an investigation.

On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security issued a terrorism threat bulletin that warned against "false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors."

"These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence," the DHS cautioned. "Mass casualty attacks and other acts of targeted violence conducted by lone offenders and small groups acting in furtherance of ideological beliefs and/or personal grievances pose an ongoing threat to the nation."

The warning is in effect until at least June 7.

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