Before Washington arrives, Convoy picks cars and anti-Ukraine talk points up.

American offshoots of the Freedom Convoy are staging in Hagerstown, Maryland, Friday, and will ramp up for their final protest in Washington, D.C., Saturday.

Before Washington arrives, Convoy picks cars and anti-Ukraine talk points up.

The American affiliate of the "Freedom Convoy", which caused chaos in Canada's capital, is promising to block traffic outside Washington, D.C. on Saturday. However, exact plans were unclear Friday, as the group made its final pit stop in Maryland.

Since the convoy left Adelanto, California on February 22, the convoy was organized using pro-Trump messaging channels and anti-vaccine channels.


 

Extremism researchers who have been following the movement claim that the convoy now includes several dozen tractor-trailer truck trucks and hundreds of cars. On Friday, the group will be staging a protest in Hagerstown, Maryland, and then moving on to Washington, D.C. on Saturday.

The livestreamers within the convoy repeatedly spoke of "blocking the Beltway," a 64-mile highway that surrounds Washington. However, group leaders have kept specific plans secret.

Dan Fitzegerald has been livestreaming his convoy journey on YouTube and said: "I can now tell you that select trucks will go to the White House."

The original purpose of the convoy was to protest vaccine and mask mandates. However, these have been largely repealed over the past few weeks as the omicron variant has dwindled. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that indoor masks are no longer required in most U.S. states.

There are around a dozen Telegram groups involved in planning the rallies. Many of these followers have posted messages saying that their convoy contributed directly to the repeal of the mandate.

According to Sara Aniano (extremism researcher), the group's demands are vague and tied to "accountability". Sara Aniano spent the month following the convoy via Telegram chats.


 

It could be financial accountability. It could also be physical accountability. It could also be legal accountability. Their inability to identify what that means is the problem," Aniano stated. Aniano published a report on QAnon’s growth after Jan. 6, for the International Centere for the Study of Radicalization (a non-profit group based in London).

As its Covid mission becomes less clear, the group's channels now focus on Russia's invasion in Ukraine. This is where conspiracy-minded thinking thrives. While members of the group have criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions, QAnon as well as anti-vaccine groups within the groups have seized upon a false conspiracy theory that war was a cover for a military operation backed in part by Donald Trump in Ukraine.

This conspiracy theory is baseless and has its roots in QAnon mythology. It claims that Trump and Putin secretly work together to stop bioweapons being made in Ukraine by Dr. Anthony Fauci and that the secret laboratories have been shelled in Ukraine. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has been a target of far-right conspiracies in the last year.

Aniano stated that she is concerned about the group's overt QAnon messaging, which has recently gained steam.

Some of the most extreme QAnon followers were added to the convoy: A group that had congregated at Dallas because they believed John F. Kennedy Jr., who died in 1999 was still alive and would show himself on the spot where his father, former President John F. Kennedy was shot. The convoy was passing through Texas when they joined them.

Some participants recited the QAnon slogan "Where We Go One, We Go All" at a nightly convoy stop. Rallygoers make stump speeches over a loudspeaker as they eat and refuel.

Aniano stated that the vague and ominous messaging is alarming, pointing to a Telegram post on Friday morning that said: "We cannot fail." We are not going to fail. This will be fixed."

Aniano stated that Trump returns in their fantasies and the military tribunals begin over Covid test results. But I doubt they know what they want. They're just mad and want to be understood.

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