Saturday, August 13, 2022

Truckers Protest In Support Of Ukraine As Second American ‘Freedom Convoy’ Falls Apart

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A second Freedom Convoy dissolved before it ever came within spitting distance of the Mississippi River over the weekend, but who cares about those jokers? While one Freedom Convoy fell apart, a few dozen truckers respectfully took to the streets of Chicago over something that matters: Supporting Ukrainians and their struggle against Russian invasion.

First, the good news: There are truckers in this country who recognize an actual threat to freedom and democracy when they see it. At least 100 semis took to Grant Park in Chicago to demand more help from the U.S. to Ukraine. The protest stretched for three miles as truckers and fellow supporters made their way to the park, CBS Chicago reports.

Drivers and organizers are demanding the U.S. do more than just place sanctions on Russia.

Cabs of semis lined Columbus Drive from Ida B. Wells Drive to Roosevelt Road on Saturday. They headed three miles down the Kennedy Expressway in the southbound lanes toward their destination in Grant Park – where organizers of the Freedom Convoy said the United States has an obligation to help Ukraine.

We want from the U.S. government to support Ukraine – to support Ukraine, like they have to support Ukraine,” said organizer Stefan Nojek.

“They feel completely left behind and abandoned by what is happening politically by our leaders here in the West,” said Ros Saciuk, president of the Suburban Council of Ukrainian Voters – based in Palatine.

The protest allowed for thru traffic and ended after a few hours because, you know, this is serious and directed political action and not a fucking block party.

Now, the also good news: A trucker convoy that left Los Angeles Friday arrived in Las Vegas Saturday with only five semis. This is the second American convoy to fizzle out. The disappointing turn out meant organizers disbanded the convoy before they even made it out of the American west. Organizers encouraged participants to join any of the seemingly dozen or so similar protests doing similar gimmicks right now, from the New York Times:

“We are making the decision to send any truckers planned to meet at our routes to start heading to D.C. for the event on the National Mall, or to join the convoys named above as they are about to merge into one,” the organizers wrote.

The decision drew mixed reactions.

“I spent days trying to coordinate a rally in support of our truckers. I have three tiny kids and work a full-time job and stretched myself thin then made myself look so stupid. I’m pretty hurt by all this,” one person commented on the post.

There are so, so many reasons a U.S. Freedom Convoy won’t work, but the complete lack of cohesion in planning a Convoy is number one. While the Ottawa convoy seemed like a spontaneous grassroots movement, it was actually planned and propelled by people with years of experience in organizing in the far right arena of Canadian politics. It seems American organizers jumped in assuming the entire thing would be a wild success, but that’s just not been the case so far.

The Ottawa Freedom Convoy was also helped by the Trans-Canadian Highway. While America has a sprawling Interstate system, Canada has two main east-west highways that thread through every major city in the country, so it was far easier for truckers and supporters to join up and build momentum. And while Canada, like the U.S., never had a national shutdown, Canadian providences were far more strict with COVID-19 health measures and Canadians were far more likely to follow those measures than in America. It’s a little more difficult to get a protest going when your supporters mainly live in U.S. states that barely changed during the pandemic, or let its population ignore health measures entirely.

Plus I don’t think one of the ways to get Americans on your side is to mess with the already fragile supply chain. Empty shelves tend to make people lose their shit. And D.C. is now way more prepared for this sort of thing following Jan. 6: There will already be 700 National Guard troops protecting the Capitol building and surrounding streets have been barricaded and blocked since last week.

Throw in the fact that it’s just easier to take time away from your job when your healthcare isn’t tied to it, and you’ve got a recipe for a pretty disappointing showing for American trucker convoys.

The People’s Convoy, currently traveling through the Great Plains with plans to reach D.C by March 5 — four days after President Biden’s State Of The Union address — seems to have gathered a larger convoy, but there aren’t any reliable reports on just how large. Honestly, with how quickly things are developing in Ukraine, by the time they arrive, I have a hard time imagining anyone will give a shit.



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