The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a warning to U.S. law enforcement and public safety officials on Tuesday that a trucker convoy protesting vaccine mandates could begin on Sunday when the Super Bowl is played in Los Angeles, California, Yahoo News first reported.
According to the outlet, which obtained unclassified internal documents, the DHS warned agencies nationwide that 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.”
The agency thinks the protest, similar to the one in Ottawa, Canada, could “severely disrupt transportation, the federal government, and law enforcement operations through gridlock and potential counter-protests.”
“The DHS alert says that “the group intends to start in California as early as mid-February and travel to Washington, DC, as late as mid-March, reportedly gathering truckers as they travel across the country,” adding that truckers from the protest in Ottawa may also head to Washington to participate,” according to the report.
DHS noted that the U.S. trucker convoy “appears to be purely aspirational because the event is only being discussed online” thought “this could change quickly.”
A DHS source told the outlet that the U.S. trucker convoy “is absolutely a real concern” and that protesters are “definitely going to follow the Canadian model and shut down Washington.” The source further added that law enforcement agencies are trying to “figure out what to do” if the convoy stalls D.C. the way a similar convoy has in Canada — something the DHS official said is “a real possibility.”
“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 Feb. 8 DHS alert reportedly reads. “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.”
In a statement to Yahoo News, a DHS spokesperson said the agency is tracking reports of the potential convoy.
“We have not observed specific calls for violence within the United States associated with this convoy, and are working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to continuously assess the threat environment and keep our communities safe. DHS will continue to share timely and actionable information with the public,” the statement continued.
The agency on Tuesday issued an alert stating the potential U.S. trucker convoy is meant to overlap with the Super Bowl, which will be played in Inglewood, California, on Sunday. The convoy could also coincide with President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1 in D.C., thought a DHS source told the outlet the convoy most likely would not arrive in time.
Key factors contributing to the current heightened threat environment include:
1. The proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions:
For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021.
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) slammed Mayorkas and Biden, saying in part that “state-sponsored threats against free speech are un-American” and that the “intimidation tactic” should be rescinded immediately.