After covering versions of the People’s Convoy for six months: today was the end of it. In the end, they accomplished absolutely nothing besides looping the Beltway, fighting each other, spamming the emergency line, badgering DC residents, & wasting fuel.
— Zachary Petrizzo (@ZTPetrizzo) August 5, 2022
But the grift will never die…
The People’s Convoy left D.C., but these folks are still here – The Washington Post https://t.co/9NtxHT7IOf
— Truth Finder (@Truthfinder1235) August 7, 2022
… The response, instead, has been mostly indifference. As well as some heckling and trolling. And some criticism that the 1776 Restoration Movement is just another group using a narrowly defined patriotism to grift for dollars and social media clout.
The protesters deny all of that. They say their cause is pure. For the past few weeks in Washington, their morning ritual has been the same. The first-risers get coffee going. Someone puts out doughnuts and fruit and snacks. Ice-filled coolers are restocked with water bottles…
Their demands are both insistent and vague. When asked for specifics, the members will say that they want representatives to recognize that they work for the people and address their grievances.
What the protest boils down to for most is a belief that the federal government should have much less authority over state governments when it comes to deciding almost every issue.
Support for that position here has been hard to garner. Most visitors have ignored them. The majority of the people who have stopped to talk with them have been foreigners, Fisher said. “They want to know what we’re about,” he said…
“This is family,” says Ohio truck driver and evangelical minister David Riddell, 57, the group’s leader, who said he never joined a protest until he connected with the People’s Convoy earlier this year. His eyes brim with tears. “So far in this movement, I’ve baptized three of them in the Potomac, renewed the vows of another couple, celebrated the 57th wedding anniversary with another one. This is family.”
In the family, Riddell allows debate and input on the issues, but he makes the final decisions, he said. He is also a member of the Proud Boys, the far-right extremist group that has a number of its leaders facing federal charges of seditious conspiracy and “opposing the lawful transfer of presidential power by force” on Jan. 6, 2021.
Riddell says he was not at the Capitol that day and has told his followers that if they choose violence, then he will no longer take part in the protest…
Many in the splinter group say they are anti-socialist and anti-big government and anti anything they think is anti-American. Their food and gas expenses are funded, they say, by other Americans who feel the same way they do. The group’s brochure solicits donations through Cash App, Venmo and Zelle. Riddell estimates the group has raised about $73,000 since forming.
They don’t believe mainstream news and get their information from far-right websites. They also follow each other’s live streams (there are lots of live streams). In their shared distrust of government and politicians and media, they found a community of like-minded souls…
If some of the group’s goals were philosophical and long-term, some of their needs were practical and immediate. When he first led his group into the District, Riddell said didn’t think he should need a permit to protest. “The Constitution is our permit,” he said defiantly. But protesters need port-a-potties. And port-a-potties need a permit. “The toilets is what broke me,” Riddell said, laughing.
For showers and to get a break from camping out in their cars, members occasionally headed to their base camp, a truck stop 83 miles away in Bunker Hill, W.Va., where their supplies of food, water, hygiene products, toilet paper and snacks are stored…
There have also been ongoing hostilities with members of another offshoot of the People’s Convoy who have accused the 1776 Restoration Movement of having members who are convicted sex offenders. Riddell said there was a former member of the group who had been convicted of child molestation in Indiana but that that person has left. That hasn’t stopped the bickering, online and in person, between the two groups.
On Monday, the group’s protest permit expires. By then, the last of the 1776 Restoration Movement protesters will have packed up their signs and flags and camp chairs and coolers and retreated to Bunker Hill, where they plan to regroup, reorganize, reread the Constitution and prepare to return in early September to seek redress of their grievances once more.
TBogg reportorial sighting:
These are some of the biggest losers in the entire universe. Complete idiots. Not even smart enough to be considered dumbasses. https://t.co/qC1hm0f0vf
— Jimmy Malone, Liberal & Ultra-Masker (@malonespeaking) August 7, 2022
The Canadian version was a lot more ‘successful’ in the short term, for reasons.
In Canada, the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests amplified anti-government sentiment among Canadians angry at COVID restrictions and, less visibly, offered a hook for anti-establishment and far-right voices to draw a bigger audience https://t.co/l7hMamevID
— Reuters (@Reuters) August 4, 2022
Making chicken salad from… well, you know:
… Extremists used the convoy “as a pulpit to get their ideas across and, in that sense, it was a success,” said David Hofmann, associate professor of sociology at the University of New Brunswick, who has been researching extremism in Canada for about a decade.
They did that directly, with talk of deposing and prosecuting the heads of Canadian government during the protests, as the convoy’s organizers declared was their goal in a “Memorandum of Understanding” leading up to the blockade.
But they were also able to do that less directly, by talking up the merits of the convoy on social media and podcasts that also promoted more extremist rhetoric and conspiracy theories…
Around 30% of Canadians agreed with the convoy’s message in February at the height of the protests, a number that has since shrunk to 25% in July, according to polling research firm Ekos Research Associates.
[Can we compromise on 27%?]
Though most COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, wearing masks and vaccine requirements have been lifted in recent months, smaller anti-government protests have continued, with some held as recently as the national holiday on July 1…
With broad support for policies like universal healthcare and gun control, Canada has long been viewed as more moderate than its southern neighbor. But analysts say right-wing extremism has long had a home north of the U.S. border — and the “Freedom Convoy” movement and related anti-government protests against COVID-19 restrictions have given it new momentum.
A 2015 study identified about 100 far-right extremist groups. The number has tripled since then, Hofmann said.
Larger groups have splintered but the overall number of participants has also grown, Hofmann said.
He and his colleagues have identified about 1,200 visibly active participants who have either had contact with police or the media or have been active on social media, he said.
This is up from previous counts but changing methodologies make comparisons difficult, he said…