Trucker Convoy Reaches Edge of D.C., Police Shut Off Access to Downtown

Police shut down several streets and highway exits to the downtown area of Washington D.C. on Monday as hundreds of drivers from the "People's Convoy" protested the government's pandemic measures.

Demonstrations by the trucker convoy were reported on I-395, I-695 and 1-295 causing massive traffic jams. The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) closed the areas in order to keep traffic moving, but motorists were urged to consider pausing travel plans, Alert DC posted on Twitter.

The "People's Convoy" is a group of truckers and other motorists objecting to COVID-19 policies that made its way from California to Washington D.C. to protest the remaining mandates. The protests come at a time when state governments are already relaxing restrictions as the number of coronavirus cases continues to fall.

The group entered the D.C. area after they were partially denied an application to hold a two-week protest at the National Mall beginning on Monday. The National Park Service said other events were booked during that time and they were working with the group to find another date and location for the protest. However, they withdrew their application Sunday night, according to Park Service records obtained by The Washington Post.

The convoy entered the city by Interstate 395 via the 14th Street bridge and continued onto 695 before crossing the Anacostia River. In order to reach downtown D.C., a driver would typically exit a variety of ramps off the 395 or 695. Metropolitan Police closed the majority of off-ramps, forcing the convoy to drive east across the downtown area and back out to the Beltway. Drivers experienced severe traffic delays as a result.

Trucker Convoy Traffic Jams
Above, the People's Convoy drives down the Capitol Beltway on March 6, 2022, in Silver Spring, Maryland. The convoy, modeled after the Canadian trucker protests, is one of several on the way to Washington, D.C., in protest of COVID-19 mandates. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

"These rolling road closures are occurring in real-time as they are needed, and will be lifted as soon as they are no longer necessary," Alert DC noted on Twitter.

Later, the trucker convoy exited the area and started heading east onto adjacent highways toward Maryland. Law enforcement officers reopened ramps to 14th Street, the 12th Street Tunnel, Potomac Park, 3rd Street Tunnel and Maine Avenue Southwest, DC Police Traffic wrote on Twitter at 3:34 p.m.

Videos posted to social media showed heavy traffic jams with an immense backup of cars, SUVs and trucks moving at a crawl. Some areas on the highways were at a complete standstill while drivers blasted their horns. Police cars were seen parked on off-ramps to prevent others from getting off the road.

Newsweek asked the MPD what future plans were if the convoy returned to the area. MPD spokesperson Alaina Gertz declined to comment, saying the department does not "discuss operational tactics."

The application convoy leader Brian Brase submitted for the protest showed they were originally planning to bring 500 trucks, 1,000 cars and campers, and up to 100,000 people to the National Mall from March 14 until March 26, The Washington Post reported.

Newsweek reached out to the National Park Service for comment.

Update 03/14/22, 4:22 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information and background.

Update 03/14/22, 3:26 p.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information.