Attacked by truckers during DC protests, 2 people say
WASHINGTON — Two people said they were attacked by drivers in the convoy of truckers driving around Washington, DC, over the past two weeks as part of a protest, even as DC police tried to stop them to enter by blocking interstate exits to downtown.
Police said they are investigating the two incidents – one which occurred on March 16 at the Francis Case Memorial Bridge and the other on March 20 at Dupont Circle.
No arrests or charges have been filed in either case.
Chris Rodriguez, director of Washington’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said Friday officials remained focused on deterring the convoy from disrupting traffic and travel, though convoy leaders called the roadblocks drivers for violating their First Amendment rights.
Rodriguez said the city is aware of the threats made against Mayor Muriel Bowser and Washington police officers.
Convoy participants are protesting vaccination mandates, which have largely been lifted, but their protest embraces other right-wing concerns. Most of the time the convoy traveled around the ring road, but occasionally took other highways or found its way through city streets.
On March 20, Kerry Bedard said a convoy member rolled his vehicle to Dupont Circle.
Bedard, 73, said she initially waved from the sidewalk in an attempt to ask the driver to stop honking while traffic was at a standstill. When he didn’t answer, she said, she pulled into the street in front of his vehicle to ask him to stop beeping. She said he hit her with his vehicle, which knocked her over and left her with foot and leg injuries that required surgery.
A spokesperson for DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services said the person involved in this incident declined medical services. Bedard said she wanted treatment at a specific hospital and was taken there by a friend.
The driver of the vehicle, an Ohio native, told police he was “moving slowly” when Bedard “entered the street and in front of his vehicle screaming, then lay down on the pavement.”
Bedard denied this account, saying she was holding her little Shih Tzu at the time and wouldn’t have gone to bed. Police described the incident as “miscellaneous”.
The March 16 bridge incident happened as a 33-year-old man from Alexandria, Va., was heading towards Washington on his motorcycle. The man said he got caught in the middle of the convoy and, like several other motorists, he “ran over” the convoy drivers.
The man said that while he was stuck in traffic, a truck driver opened his door in an apparent attempt to knock him off the motorcycle. He said the attempt had failed, and he drove past the truck and stopped.
The man said other drivers got out of their vehicles and an argument ensued. He said they dragged him off his motorbike, took his keys and assaulted him, banging his head against the curb several times. He said the truckers pulled out by the time the police arrived. He was wearing his helmet then.
Rodriguez said the city is coordinating with Maryland officials and is seeing a “significant decrease” in the number of vehicles and trucks in Hagerstown, estimated at around 100. He said the majority of vehicles on the road are now owned by individuals.
Rodriguez said that when convoy members enter the city, police respond and “take action if any laws are broken.”
Asked about the two incidents in which residents said they were attacked by members of the convoy, Mike Landis, co-organizer of the group, replied in a text message: “no one was attacked”.
He wrote that “these people are doing everything they can to discredit what we do. They either don’t understand what it’s all about or they don’t like freedom.”