As of press time, it was being estimated 300 trucks would be arriving late Wednesday afternoon in Lockwood as part of the People’s Convoy, which has been inspired and is being organized similar to the Canadian trucker’s Freedom Convoy.
The convoy began in Spokane Wednesday morning with plans to stop in Missoula around noon and then later in Belgrade and then on to Billings at about 7 pm. Plans were being made in some communities to herald truckers along the way from overpasses in locations such as Livingston, Big Timber and Columbus.
Among the local volunteers who are helping to organize the event is Jo Kinkade of Billings who is helping to collect and distribute contributions from the community for the truckers and organize rallies.
Kinkade reports that the convoy will spend Wednesday night in Lockwood.
Initially they requested to use the parking lots at MetraPark for their overnight stay, but Interim Manager of Metra Park Tim Goodridge said that they had to turn them down because MetraPark is busy this week with basketball tournaments and the Home Improvement Show.
Kinkade said that several Lockwood businesses, including Town Pump, Flying J and Pilot, are making their parking lots available. One Lockwood business with a large space is making their property available and are keeping their building open all night so people can use their bathrooms, said Kinkade, who is beyond impressed with the enthusiasm and support they are encountering. The visitors coming through Montana with the convoy are also amazed and overwhelmed with Montana’s hospitality; “it’s not something that truckers always encounter,” she said.
A team of volunteers will also provide a barbeque serving up hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, etc. near the Johnson Lane Intersection in Lockwood. Live music will also be part of the event.
“We even have a patriot who has rented a shuttle bus which will be used to shuttle people from the various parking locations to the barbeque,” said Kinkade.
“Please bring your kids out and see this. It’s a once in a life time experience,” implored Kinkade, “It is really important for them to see this.”
The Montana group will travel to Gillette on Thursday and then to Rapid City, South Dakota. Truckers will leave Lockwood early Thursday morning, with a rally at about 7:30 am at the Lockwood exit followed by another one at about 8:30 – 9 am, Exit 462 overpass, as they leave Billings. As the truckers leave they will be given homemade burritos, and other donations including gift cards.
The primary focus of the truckers’ convey, both in Canada and the US, is to urge the lifting of vaccine mandates, but no conversation with any trucker goes very far before they are talking about the broader issue of freedom. Masking and vaccine mandates as dictates from upper echelons of government are nothing new to truckers who work in one of the most regulated industries in the country. For two years, truckers have been prohibited by both governments from crossing the US/Canadian border without evidence of being vaccinated.
Despite the lifting of mask mandates last week, vaccine mandates are still in place for many people. Having been imposed very abruptly, the mandates caught many trucking families split on either side of the border because they refuse to get vaccinated – a decision they believe they should have the right to decide for themselves. Kinkade remarked that there are still truckers who have not seen family members in two years.
The convoy through Montana will join up with the main convoy which was launched on Tuesday, to began an 11- day journey to Washington, D.C. Around 1,000 semi-truck drivers departed from Adelanto Stadium, about 85 miles east of Los Angeles. Convoys from states along the way are expected to join as they pass through those areas, with expectations that it will reach 7000 to 8000 trucks by the time they reach DC. Stops are planned for Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri and other states.
The truckers do not plan on going into the city in Washington, D.C . They are parking in peripheral areas, and “they aren’t going to move until things are happening for us,” said Kinkade. She added, the truckers are being advised to make sure they have food and things taken care of at home for the duration.
Kinkade said that once she heard about the People’s Convoy being organized she knew it was time to start organizing and collecting donations for truckers in every state. She signed up on Telegram and volunteered as a helping hand in Montana. She was soon designated a representative for Montana and has been very busy every since.
Kinkade rounded up volunteers in communities throughout the state to collect food and gift cards for gas and to designate drop off locations, once they found out what the route will be.