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BRATTLEBORO — People gathered at the I-91 Exit 2 overpass to show support for the trucker convoy that passed through the area on Wednesday, as it makes its way down to Washington D.C.

Modeled after recent trucker protests in Canada, separate truck convoys have been planned through online forums with names like the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund — all with different starting points, departure dates and routes.

The convoys follow the recent Canadian truckers’ protest which shut down the busiest U.S. Canadian border crossing and besieged the streets of the capital, Ottawa, for weeks to protest government pandemic restrictions. The multiple blockades were broken up by police last month, with more than 100 arrests.

It remains to be seen if any of the U.S. convoys will seek to actively shut down Washington’s streets, the way their Canadian counterparts did in Ottawa. Some convoy organizers have spoken of plans to briefly roll through the city, then focus on shutting down the Beltway, which encircles the capital.

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The U.S. convoys seek an immediate lifting of what they say are heavy-handed government pandemic restrictions like mask mandates and vaccine requirements. The American Truckers Freedom Fund website says the group is protesting “the unscientific, unconstitutional overreach of the federal government.”

Vaccines have proven highly effective at preventing COVID-19 infections, especially serious illness and death, and high-quality masks offer strong protection against spreading or contracting the disease. Public sentiment, especially among conservatives, has been shifting against government mandates as the pandemic heads into its third year.

People’s Convoy organizer Mike Landis, in a video testimonial on the group’s website, said the current COVID vaccine “is not proven yet” but supported individual choice on whether to take it or not. Landis said the convoy is open to all vehicles and said the primary goal is to pressure President Biden to lift the national state of emergency.

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