Casper Man Collecting Donations For Trucker Convoy COVID Protest in Washington D.C.
In January, a group of truckers decided to take matters into their own hands by organizing a "freedom convoy" in Canada to protest COVID-19 mandates and restrictions, parking their semi trucks on main roadways and blocking the supply chain from Canada to the United States. Now, American truck drivers are planning to do the same thing.
According to Newsweek, "A convoy of American truckers will leave from Adelanto, California, on Wednesday to complete an 11-day journey to the nation's capital, where the group plans to hold a protest demanding that all COVID 19-related mandates are lifted across the country."
The group, called 'The People's Convoy,' is inspired by the protesters in Ottawa and they are hoping to have the same sort of impact. A Casper man by the name of Erik Rassmussen is seeking donations for the truck drivers, to ensure their comfortability as they protest America's COVID-19 mandates.
"It's not just me, per say," Rassmussen stated. "I don't want to be the one acting like I'm the head guy of this or anything. I've just been working with several cities in the state of Wyoming to create a supply chain for the truckers that are doing their demonstration over in Washington D.C."
Rassmussen said that originally, he was just trying to get supplies in Casper but he made a slew of connections in other cities, resulting in a group being formed that will serve as a sort of assembly line to get supplies to the protesters. He had experience in organizing protests and he wanted to put his skills and resources to use to help out these truck drivers.
"I saw it happening in Canada and then I started hearing some rumors on Telegram (a cross-platform messaging software) saying that there were going to be some truckers thinking of doing a convoy here in the United States," Rassmussen said. "I've worked for a couple of events. I helped run a police rally last year and helped with a couple other events for Campaign for Liberty down in Cheyenne. And I just know you need a lot of planning for this to happen."
Rassmussen said that he immediately began making flyers and reaching out to people to get a variety of supplies that he believes the truckers would need.
"The truckers are going to be doing the protests and everything," he said. "They're gonna need people that are able to provide them supplies and keep them taken care of and make sure their dogs are fed."
The flyer, featuring a picture of Burt Reynolds (because why not?), states that the group's campaign "is about human rights." It requests a variety of dry goods, special items and gear, and safety materials.
Rassmussen emphasized that this move is not a political one; they just want to encourage the right to protest.
"The goal of the people I'm working with, our main goal is just to help these people and encourage their right to protest," Rasmussen stated. "We're trying to stay real apolitical with the supply chain side of things; we just enjoy seeing people enforce their right to demonstrate and protest."
Rassmussen quoted 'The People's Convoy,' and stated that the group's two main goals are to end COVID-19 mandates and to end vaccine passports. They are doing so in dramatic fashion.
Politico wrote that "Since late January, truck drivers have wreaked havoc on Canadian cities, occupying parts of Ottawa and ultimately blocking the country’s most vital trade route to the U.S. in protest of COVID restrictions and vaccine mandates."
Though Rassmussen says his involvement is not political, the protest itself could certainly be seen that way.
"The once-narrow protest, dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” has spiraled into a broader movement of the far right as some protesters waive Confederate and Nazi flags in the streets," Politico wrote. "The demonstrations have caught the attention of conservative politicians in the U.S. who have praised the truckers as advocates of freedom."
Last week, Ottawa police arrested 191 people and towed more than 57 vehicles but, Rasmussen said, the U.S. version of the protest doesn't actually want to hurt America.
"I imagine their expectations are more to create a little bit of a supply chain disruption around D.C., to the people who actually make the laws," he said. "I can tell you, first and foremost, the last thing they wanna do is hurt the rest of the nation. They love the support they're getting from everybody here. I can't tell you how many truckers have reached out to our organizers and just expressed so much gratitude and thanks to us for holding them up in these times when they're trying to speak when a lot of people can't."
Rassmussen said that the plan is to create "a supply chain" to get the donated items to the truckers in D.C. He said that one of his group's head organizers works in North Dakota and he is working with coordinators in South Carolina as well.
"We're gonna be trying to create a supply chain because, as much as we love the idea of all the support we're getting from the go if it, if these guys are there for longer than a couple weeks...if they end up being there for a couple months or something like that that...we're gonna need continued supplies," he said. "They're gonna need to be getting continually resupplied and we want to have a supply chain that makes getting them stuff really easy."
Obviously, the idea of creating a supply chain to assist individuals who are disrupting a supply chain, is an interesting one. The irony is not lost on Rassmussen.
"To be completely honest, I think it proves their points of how important they are," he said. "We have to come together as a community. We're all in this together. And, I think a lot of blue collar workers tend to feel a little underappreciated in our current economy and stature and everything like that. So I do see the irony, but there's also this double-edged sword that's showing just how important it is as a country that we do need these guys."
Rasmussen said the plan is to deliver goods to the truckers driving through Wyoming on March 3. The meetup will happen at 1 p.m. at the Camplex in Gillette.
"The whole trucker supply chain, they're gonna be grouping up and linking together as they start from Washington," he said. "So the demonstrators who will be making that drive, starting from Washington, they have a route that they'll be going through and the convoy goes through Gillette on that date, give or take a couple hours."
Rassmussen said that donations in Casper can be dropped off at The Gooseberry Creek, located 116 East 2nd Street, in Downtown Casper. More information about the needs and the process can be found at the Natrona County Patriots Facebook page, or the Support Trucker Convoy Wyoming Facebook page.
"We're all in this together," Rassmussen reiterated. "The big thing I want to focus on is being peaceful and safe and making sure [the convoy] stays nonviolent. That is the main message. I put so much thought into those words that I put down at the bottom of my flyer: 'Resilience, Comradery, Heart, Goodwill.' Those are the values that we want to stress to everybody who's doing their part. We want this to be a bonding experience and not necessarily something that's gonna divide the country more."