Members of The People’s Convoy trucker group that has protested against COVID-19 rules filed a lawsuit against officials in Washington, D.C., for what they said was a violation of their First Amendment rights.
Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), they wrote in the suit, erected blockades to prevent them from entering the city. Sixteen members and organizers of the convoy joined the lawsuit, which was filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
“MPD formed the blockades for the sole purpose of preventing American citizens from entering our nation’s capital to exercise their constitutionally protected right to free speech,” their lawsuit stated. “Of course, such action under color of state law violates Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.”
The lawsuit also said that the plaintiffs are “hardworking Americans” who went to Washington to “lawfully exercise their First Amendment rights in protest of the current administration’s continued state of emergency declaration and COVID-19-related policies.”
But when they attempted to enter Washington, they discovered the MPD had formed blockades to deny them from entering the city, according to the suit.
“The blockades were not the result of construction, auto accidents, or even scheduled road closures,” the lawsuit said, adding that the move led to the deaths of two people who crashed a car into one of the blockades. Those deaths, the plaintiffs argued, “were entirely avoidable and tragically, foreseeable.”
After the convoy protesters demonstrated throughout March, an organizer announced the group would leave Washington and go to California to demonstrate against California’s COVID-19 rules. Their protest was inspired by a Canadian trucker movement known as the Freedom Convoy, which protested for weeks in Ottawa against COVID-19 mandates. In response, the Canadian government took unprecedented action against the truckers, including shutting down bank accounts as critics accused the government of engaging in draconian, tyrannical measures.
“I think stopping those is more important at this point in time than getting the emergency declaration repealed because that’s already in place, and we need to stop stuff like these bills from getting in place,” convoy organizer Mike Landis told reporters in late March. “Otherwise, the rest of us that don’t live in California are going to end up subject to the same situation.”
The lawsuit is asking the district court to make the local government grant the truckers access into the District of Columbia without interference so they can protest.
According to the suit, the plaintiffs are from California, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Arlington, Virginia-based attorney Michael Yoder is representing them.
The Epoch Times has contacted Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office for comment.