Traffic Advisory: Truckers Plan to "Occupy" the Washington Beltway

Traffic Advisory: Truckers Plan to "Occupy" the Washington Beltway

They're mad as hell, they're not going to take it anymore, and they want Congress to listen up.

Reading off a list of grievances that range from wages too low to live on, gas prices too high to afford, overly intrusive government regulations, and a do-nothing Congress, a group of disaffected Americans has planned to lay siege to I-495 from Oct 11 to Oct. 13. By "occupying" the Capital Beltway, they plan to tie up traffic in knots.

But here's the thing: It's not 20-somethings in tie-dye and dreadlocks doing the occupying. It's truckers.

Ride for the Constitution
The small army of truck drivers that began slow-walking around Congress this morning originally titled itself "Truckers To Shutdown America." They've since changed their name -- perhaps after discovering that the American Congress had already taken care of the whole "shutting down America" thing. But it takes a long time to stop a big rig once it's built up momentum, and so the truckers are still coming to town.

Now calling themselves "Truckers Ride For The Constitution," the group has declared a "GENERAL STRIKE" (yes, all caps) on Washington. Beginning today, Friday, Oct. 11, the strike should stretch through Sunday, the 13th. For the next three days, the truckers "will not haul freight," and they say they won't let other drivers haul, either.

Is that legal?
Maybe so. According to news reports, the truckers will be driving "three lanes deep" around the Capitol Beltway for the next 72 hours. As such, they won't quite prevent traffic from passing, as most of I-495 is four lanes traveling in each direction. But a solid wall of tractor-trailing trucks stretching across 36 feet of asphalt is likely to slow down traffic to a relative crawl nonetheless.

What's more, so long as the drivers keep to the posted speed limits, it's going to be hard to charge them with obstructing traffic when other drivers shouldn't, technically speaking, be trying to pass them at all.

That said, if the D.C., Maryland, or Virginia police do try to cite truckers for their actions during the protests, things could quickly spiral out of control. According to self-proclaimed TRFTC spokesman Eric Conlon: "If cops decide to give us a hard time, we're going to lock the brakes up, we're going to stop right there, we're going to be a three lane roadblock."

Is it sane?
That method of protest would be pretty obviously illegal. But a bigger question concerns just what the truckers are trying to accomplish in the first place. While many fellow citizen drivers may sympathize with the truckers' frustrations over Congress and the state of the nation in general, the list of "demands" TRFTC is said to be making seems to be weaving back and forth across the median.

In addition to complaints about corruption and inaction in Washington, TRFTC is also said to be upset over such varied issues as:

  • plans to arm rebel fighters in Syria's civil war

  • spying on Americans by the National Security Agency

  • and unspecified "crimes against the United States" committed by President Barack Obama.

Most tellingly, TRFTC spokesman Peter Santilli asserts: "One of our demands is NON-NEGOTIABLE: President Obama must be removed from office for crimes against the United States and all unconstitutional executive orders nullified. How that is accomplished legally is for the legal and constitutional experts to determine."

Which sounds a bit far-fetched. But then again, seeing as the demand is "NON-NEGOTIABLE," maybe these truckers know how Washington works after all.

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