The US Capitol Police (USCP) Department in Washington has asked for assistance from the US National Guard as it prepares for a reported protest convoy modeled on the Canadian “Freedom Convoy 2022” that has been taking place in recent weeks.
Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby said that the Department of Defense is evaluating the request from the Capitol Police and a similar request from the DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.
Kirby said that the specific assistance requested is for personnel to support USCP at traffic control checkpoints around DC to “possible stem disruptions” in heavy traffic areas. He said that no decisions had been made about possibly approving the requests.
Different groups have been reportedly planning protests around the country that will converge on Washington in the coming weeks in response to the federal government’s COVID-19 restrictions and mandates. One protest named the “People’s Convoy” is expected to begin in Victorville, California, and make an 11-day trip to the nation’s capital. There are several similar groups planning routes from other US locations toward Washington.
Fox News has reported that a group of truck drivers has requested a permit from the National Park Service to gather up to 3,000 vehicles in DC.
Local law enforcement in DC has been unable to arrange to hire a sufficient number of heavy tow trucks that might be needed to clear the number of tractor-trailer rigs expected to descend on the city. Officials have said that National Guard roadblocks in strategic locations would help compensate.
Last week, DC Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said that local officials anticipate significant traffic disruptions. He said that law enforcement agencies should be “very candid” with the public about planning in light of recent events in Ottawa, Canada.
Canadian police forces finally broke up the Canadian Freedom Convoy last weekend, bringing downtown Ottawa to a standstill for three weeks. The police towed 99 vehicles and arrested 191 people during the crackdown on the protest.
The USCP said that city and agency leaders considered a “temporary inner-perimeter fence” before the convoy protests. The department has also imposed time-off limitations for officers, placing personnel on a “civil disturbance” call beginning this week.