Rand Paul Urges Truckers to Come Protest COVID-19 Mandates in US
'I'm all for it,' Paul said of the Canadian truckers' anti-mandate demos
By: Tom Ozimek
February 12, 2022: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told The Daily Signal in a recent interview that he’s all for trucker convoys coming to the United States to stage protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Paul made the remarks in a Feb. 10 interview, the same day the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed to The Epoch Times that it’s tracking potential truck convoys in the United States after Canadian protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates unfolded in several cities.
“I’m all for it. Civil disobedience is a time-honored tradition in our country, from slavery to civil rights, you name it,” Paul told the outlet. “Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.”
Dubbed the “Freedom Convoy,” Canada’s trucker protests have elicited strong reactions. Some see them as part of a welcome grassroots battle against authoritarian mandates and government overreach more broadly. Others acknowledge the truckers’ concerns but view the snarled traffic as a troubling nuisance to residents and businesses. Still, others denounce the protesting truckers as dangerous extremists whose blockades threaten public safety, the economy, and even, according to Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, democracy itself.
People gather in protest against COVID-19 mandates and in support of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions taking place in Ottawa, in Edmonton, Canada, on Feb. 5, 2022. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)Paul, who has been vocal in his opposition to COVID-19 vaccination requirements, expressed sympathy with the Canadian truckers in their fight against recently imposed mandates, which require truck drivers entering Canada from the United States to be fully vaccinated or face additional quarantining and testing. “They’re riding in a cab by themselves, most of them for eight, 10-hour long hauls, and they just want to do what they want to do. It’s their own business,” he told The Daily Signal.
The truckers have launched protests in multiple Canadian cities, including the capital Ottawa. Thousands initially descended upon the Canadian capital two weeks ago and while their numbers have declined, more than 400 trucks remain parked in front of the Parliament Buildings.
Demonstrations have generally been peaceful but offensive to some Canadians. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency last week, saying the protests posed a threat to residents’ safety as there had been complaints of residents being harassed. A number of protesters have been seen carrying signs or flags with obscene insults referencing Trudeau.
Trucks part of the “Freedom Convoy” ride through downtown Ottawa, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Noé Chartier/The Epoch Times)Canadian truck driver Bill Dykema, 71, told The Epoch Times that he’s protesting in Ottawa on behalf of his 19 grandchildren, saying it’s “for them and to give them their freedom.”
“I’m just a 71-year-old, poor old working man. Our freedoms have gone. You can’t go to a restaurant, unless you’re shot,” he said.
Howard Spencer, 44, from near Vancouver, arrived two weeks ago and said he’s determined to stay as long as it takes.
“I’m here to stand up for everyone’s rights and freedoms,” he told The Epoch Times. Howard Spencer joined the blockade to regain the Bill of Rights freedoms he says Canadians have lost, in Ottawa, Canada, on Feb. 11, 2022. (Richard Moore/The Epoch Times)“I’m not an anti-vaxxer. We have a Bill of Rights and I think that’s been lost by the powers that be and we need to get back to that and get back to our freedoms. I think they are eroding,” he added.
Some residents have expressed frustration with the protests. Deana Sherif of Ottawa, who held a counterprotest against the truckers, told The Epoch Times on Feb. 11 that some residents have felt harassed and the blockade was threatening shipments of goods and threatening livelihoods.
“We have a problem with the fact there is abuse on residents of our city and a problem with you stopping or slowing the travel from countries that bring us food or supplies and allow Canadians to work,” she said.
“So if you have a problem with the lockdowns, the way to do that is not force a lockdown.” Ottawa resident Bobby Smith expressed sympathy with the protesters’ grievances but said the blockade has gone too far.
“There’s legitimate frustration down here but, unfortunately, some bad behavior that has spilled over into the neighborhoods that has people feel threatened,” Smith said.
Local resident Bobby Smith asked the protesters to move on, in Ottawa, Canada, on Feb. 11, 2022. (Richard Moore/The Epoch Times)He went on to allege that, on Feb. 10, the supporters of the convoy clogged up the 911 systems so residents could not get through to the emergency responders, which is a danger to everyone.
“There is just a lot of people around the protest zone who are feeling really scared, really fearful,” he said, adding, “That’s what I came to say and respectfully ask for the convoy to go.”
Some Americans have floated plans to organize similar convoys to Washington and elsewhere in protest against mandates.
Organizers of a group called The People’s Convoy announced Wednesday plans to gather in Indio, California on March 4 and rally that weekend “to defeat the unconstitutional mandates.”
Other social media posts indicate the convoy might travel to Washington, while a poster circulated on Twitter called for a “medical freedom protest” that would shut down the Super Bowl.
The convoys in Canada have disrupted some shipments to or from the United States, the White House said on Feb. 7. The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing was blocked by protesters starting the same day. Some U.S. automakers have paused output due to the protests.
Source: The Epoch Times