President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security warned U.S. law enforcement and other public safety officials nationwide this week that a trucker convoy protesting COVID-19 mandates may start on Feb. 13.
The warning states that “the convoy could severely disrupt transportation, federal government, and law enforcement operations through gridlock and potential counterprotests,” according to senior law enforcement and documents first obtained by Yahoo News on Wednesday.
The DHS said it “has received reports of a convoy of truckers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers,” and issued the warning to law enforcement agencies nationwide.
The warning also said, “the group intends to start in California as early as mid-February and travel to Washington, D.C., as late as mid-March, reportedly gathering truckers as they travel across the country.” Truckers who took part in the Ottawa, Canada, “Freedom Convoy” protest may also head to Washington, D.C., the alert added.
An anonymous DHS source told Yahoo News that the trucker convoy heading to Washington, D.C. “is absolutely a real concern.”
“They are definitely going to follow the Canadian model and shut down Washington,” said the DHS official, referring to the massive peaceful protests which have overwhelmed law enforcement in Ottawa for nearly two weeks.
“At this time, we have no indication that individuals discussing participating in these activities in the United States are engaged in anything other than First Amendment–protected activity,” the DHS continued. “Nonetheless, DHS remains concerned that these events could have significant public safety implications or potentially be exploited by ideologically motivated actors to potentially act or encourage others to act violently.”
A DHS spokesperson also told Yahoo News that the department is “tracking reports of a potential convoy” and that it has “not observed specific calls for violence within the United States associated with this convoy.” The spokesperson added that the DHS is working with federal, state and local partners to “continuously assess the threat environment and keep our communities safe.”
“We are tracking this like it’s a real threat because we think it has the potential to cause all kinds of problems, violent or otherwise,” another law enforcement official told the outlet. “We don’t want a lot of angry people storming D.C., we’ve seen that before. So for now, we monitor movements and see who these people are, if they pose a threat not just to D.C. but of course to anywhere else along the way.”