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Truckers make little impact in D.C.-area government protest

Organizers had hoped as many as 10,000 truck drivers would attend the "Ride for the Constitution," but so far it's more like dozens.
Government Shutdown Continues Without Resolution
Pennsylanvia Ave. and the U.S. Capitol is shown on a rainy morning on October 9, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Ride for the Constitution, a collection of truck drivers who descended on Washington D.C. Friday for a weekend-long protest, has gained traction on social media, but has yet to make a significant impact on the D.C. area.

While organizers had hoped thousands — perhaps as many as 10,000 — would participate, the numbers appear to be far lower. A few dozen tractor-trailers and pick-up trucks have been spotted driving around Interstate 495 sporting American flags and signs that said #T2SDA – which stands for Truckers to Shut Down America — according to reports from NBC Washingtonand the Washington Post. Those reports also note that aside from a few exceptions, most of those trucks have been moving with the regular speed of traffic, rather than impeding it. USA Today went so far as to report that heavy rains in the area seemed to be having a greater impact on traffic than the truckers.

The Virginia State Police dispatched additional troopers in anticipation of the event, but have had few issues to deal with. One exception occurred early Friday morning when four tractor-trailers blocked the highway, slowing traffic to around 15 miles per hour, according to state police. Troopers eventually pulled the vehicles over, “warned them not to impede traffic,” according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corrine Geller, allowing them to ”proceed on their way” without issuing any tickets.

Some on twitter captured images of the tractor-trailers on traffic cameras.

The hashtag T2SDA was lighting up twitter on Friday, making it into the trending topic list at least once during the day. The Ride for the Constitution Facebook page saw significant traffic as well, climbing up to 170,000 likes as of Friday afternoon.

The protesters officially oppose “corruption that is destroying America,” and earlier this week organizers said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinsteincould be arrested. Organizer and right wing radio host Pete Santilli told U.S. News & World Report subsequently that truckers and other participants are calling for President Obama to be impeached, but backed down from earlier calls that the truckers would “arrest” congressmen.

Santilli and his fellow organizer, Zeeda Andrews, both have been associated with fringe conspiracy theories, as Media Matters has chronicled closely. Andrews may in fact believe that President Obama and Osama Bin Laden are the same person.

As recently as this week, while in the midst of organizing the trucker protest, Santilli argued that if peaceful action was not taken this week, more violent protesters would be “justified” in striking back against government officials for raising the debt ceiling.

On his Monday show Santilli said that raising the debt ceiling would amount to “financial terrorism” and “an act of terroristic war upon the American people.”

“What is going to happen is if we do not take this peaceful maneuver right now, peacefully, and rise up and shut their whole system down and say enough is enough, no Obamacare, no raising the debt ceiling, no more economic terrorism, no more supporting Al Qaeda,” he said, according to audio captured by Media Matters.

He also referenced “Three Percenters,” a Tea Party-like movement with a strong affinity for the Second Amendment that focuses on the fact that roughly three percent of the population managed to overthrow the British during the Revolutionary War.

“They’re never going to be able to stop us and if it takes the Three Percenters to take our government and hand it back to the people, that’s what’s going to happen here,” Santilli said.