Flags waved proudly and crowds came out in force to show their support for a convoy of truckers that passed through the Twin Cities Friday on its way to Hudson, Wis.
The protest against vaccine mandates reportedly began in Arizona and is headed for the nation’s capital. The group of truckers stayed the night in Sauk Centre and then traveled across I-94 Friday morning.
Minnesotans gathered on roads and bridges in Woodbury, Monticello, St. Cloud, Brooklyn Center and Maple Grove to show their support.
On the Radio Drive and I-94 overpass in Woodbury, Mike Ashton braved the cold to stand in solidarity with “patriots fighting for freedom.”
“Our whole thing is about waking up more people. You got to stand up for freedom, you got to stand up for your kids,” said Ashton.
Nicole Nejezchleba, a coordinator for Friday’s show of support, said the message is about letting people decide for themselves on how they want to live their lives.
“We want to go back to the way we had it before COVID, get our civil rights back, get our liberties back, get the government off our backs,” Nejezchleba said.
Truckers across the United States first began protesting in January when the Canadian government imposed a vaccine mandate for truckers entering the country from the U.S.
Nejezchleba told Alpha News that mandates will only further disrupt supply chains due to the dire shortage of drivers.
According to the American Trucking Associations, trucks transported 70.9% of the value of surface trade between the U.S. and Canada in 2020. In 2020, the value of truck-transported trade with Canada fell 9.9% to $309 billion.
According to a nationwide survey of members conducted by the American Trucking Associations, the average “driver vaccination rate across responding carriers was only 50% — meaning only half of responding drivers were vaccinated as of September 2021.”
The International Trade Administration states that “Canada ranks as the top U.S. export market, accounting for 17.9% of all U.S. goods exports in 2020.”
Despite mandates easing in the U.S., Nejezchleba wants to remind citizens that the fight is not over.
“The Emergency Powers Act in Minnesota statutes is still there, we don’t want that to happen again. We need to repeal these laws, make sure these mandates don’t become bills so never again will this happen,” Nejezchleba told Alpha News.
Supporters at Friday’s convoy agree it’s not the pandemic that is causing problems; it’s the government.
“This is for all the heck we’ve been through, all of us for the last two years,” said Susan Lorenz. “Our saviors of our spirits are these drivers who keep us trucking through.”
On Saturday there will be a freedom celebration at the St. Paul Capitol from 2-4 p.m. followed by a mini-convoy to the governor’s mansion.
There will also be a “tribute convoy” Sunday that starts at 1:30 p.m. and will travel the 494/694 loop.