Military veterans, along with truckers, are heading for Washington DC at the end of the week to express their opposition to the conduct of the federal government. Although the WWII memorial was constructed – and is maintained – with private funding and even though it is normally open to the public at all times and has no security, armed forces veterans have been prevented from paying their respects at the site, along with other war memorials. Some of the visitors have now even been arrested. At the same time, the authorities have given the green light to a rally on the National Mall, in support of illegal immigration. It seems that the level of outrage against the actions of the current administration has almost reached boiling point.
The truckers’ protest is labeled the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” or “Truckers to Shut Down America.” The protest has been promoted on social networks, although the Facebook page was shut down and so a new one was started. The original page had quickly garnered more than 87,000 “likes.” The new page has almost 61,000 “likes.” Twitter also decided to censor the truckers, suspending their @T2SDA account, although the hashtag #T2SDA is still being used heavily.
From October 11-13, the truckers plan to bring the nation’s capital to a standstill. They will circle the beltway, taking up three lanes and leaving only an emergency lane open. They have vowed to respond to any potential action by law enforcement by creating a “three-lane roadblock,” according to one trucker. The drivers plan to call upon law enforcement to arrest members of Congress for violating the Constitution. “We are going to ask the law enforcement to uphold their constitutional oath and make these arrests. If they refuse to do it, by the power of the people of the United States and the people’s grand jury, they don’t want to do it, we will…” the trucker said.
In a press release published Saturday on the movement’s website, the truckers have listed their grievances, which include a number of issues related to regulations which they see as unfairly restricting their ability to operate at a profit. These points of contention include mandatory breaks during driving time, the requirement to maintain electronic driving logs (ELOG) and high fuel prices, which they consider to be manipulated by the current administration, which, they say, has also refused to exploit North America’s abundant natural resources, which would, according to the press release, “lower the price of fuel and gas, well below $1.00 per gallon.” The Truckers also cite a number of political grievances against the Obama administration, such as its support of al Qaeda fighters in Syria, an excessive number of Executive Orders, and the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), to which, in 2012, President Obama added a provision for “indefinite military detention without charge or trial”. In addition to truckers, private citizens are being encouraged to join the protest in their personal vehicles.
While the truckers are heading to Washington, military veterans are also organizing a “million veteran march” on the capital, scheduled to take place October 13, in coordination with gatherings at war memorials across the country. The vets are responding to the perceived direct disrespect shown by the administration towards them by the recent barricading of a number of prominent memorials including the World War II memorial, the Iwo Jima memorial and the Vietnam memorial.
Recent photographs of veterans being arrested at memorials in Washington have caused widespread disgust and anger, particularly since it has been revealed that a demonstration in support of illegal immigrants’ rights has been approved to take place on the National Mall, which has been, supposedly, closed down as a result of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
The “Million Vet March” is also being heavily promoted on social networks; the twitter hashtag is #1MVetMarch. According to their website, “Vets, their spouses, children, friends, neighbors – everyone who thinks enough is enough!” are invited to attend.
According to the petition that they are inviting Americans to sign, “We, the American people and honored veterans are outraged by the senseless closure of our national war memorials. We understand that many of these memorials are open 24 hours per day, seven days per week with little or no staffing and were paid for with tax payer funds.”
It remains to be seen how many truckers, veterans and ordinary Americans will be heading to Washington. It is also not certain what effect these events will have upon the nation’s elected leaders, although it may be that these twin protests mark the beginning of popular demonstrations against the US government that will rival the TEA Party and Occupy demonstrations of recent years.
Graham J Noble