- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Truckers planning to circumnavigate the Beltway in a political protest this weekend are suggesting they might also orchestrate a traffic jam Monday morning, even as trucking associations denounce the event and its organizers.

A video posted online by organizers of the “Truckers Ride for the Constitution” event outlines instructions for drivers participating in the demonstration — which is being held to protest the government shutdown and drivers’ low wages, among other causes.

Describing ride instructions to potential participants, organizer Ernest “General” Lee states in the video that drivers will loop the Beltway for 24 hours in three eight-hour shifts beginning Friday at 7 a.m. and then again at noon Sunday.

“You’ll all have a shot,” Mr. Lee said in a video, shot behind a tractor-trailer. “Then we’ll discuss and see how many guys want to hang around for a Monday morning traffic jam on the 14th.”

Organizer Peter Santilli, an Internet radio host, vouched for the authenticity of the video and its contents.

“The Beltway is the symbolic gesture,” Mr. Santilli said. “The convoys will be taking place in every major metro area in the country.”

While thousands have voiced support for the group on social media sites, the protest seems to be limited to individual drivers with major trucking associations speaking out only to oppose the event, not to condone it.

“The American Trucking Associations is not a sponsor of this ‘strike’ nor do we endorse or condone the activities of these few individuals,” read a statement issued by the ATA, the nation’s largest trucking trade association.

The Virginia Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have likewise spoken out against the protest, with some questioning the motivations of the organizers.

“The individuals leading this particular effort have no direct affiliation with trucking and appear to be using truckers in order to gain media attention and air other political grievances,” OOIDA spokeswoman Norita Taylor said in a statement.

Whatever the participation level, organizers’ desires to impede traffic around the region might not live up to expectations. Monday is Columbus Day and with thousands of workers still furloughed by the government shutdown it’s unclear how much of a bottleneck the truckers would create on the roadways.

Further complicating their efforts, the group’s organizational lines have also been blurry. A man who purported to speak for the group recently said trucks would ride “three lanes deep” and seek the arrest of members of Congress during the protests. The man later admitted he was not an organizer of the event and said he oversold them in order to garner attention for the protest.