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U.S. truckers planning protest convoy, perhaps starting in L.A. for Super Bowl, DHS warns

Trucker protest cuts off critical trade routes
Trucker protest in Canada cuts off critical trade routes 02:59

The Department of Homeland Security is warning U.S. law enforcement agencies that a group of truckers is planning a protest of COVID-19 vaccine mandates that could start as soon as this weekend in Los Angeles, site of the Super Bowl

Ahead of the Super Bowl, DHS is surging additional staff to its Incident Command Post in Los Angeles, nearby SoFi Stadium. Already, more than 500 DHS personnel are providing air and maritime security resources, part of standard operating procedure ahead of Sunday.      

The bulletin, obtained by CBS News, says the convoy could then head east, perhaps reaching Washington, D.C. in time for President Biden's State of the Union address on March 1.

The bulletin warns that the convoy "could severely disrupt transportation, federal government, and law enforcement operations through gridlock and potential counterprotests."

The warning comes as the trucker protest in Canada begins to hinder production at some U.S. auto plants that are running short on parts.

Truckers and supporters continue to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Canada
Protestors block the last entrance to the Ambassador Bridge, which connects Detroit and Windsor, effectively shutting it down as truckers and their supporters continue to demonstrate against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on February 9, 2022. CARLOS OSORIO / REUTERS

The bulletin says the DHS "has received reports of truck drivers planning to potentially block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates for truck drivers.

"The convoy will potentially begin in California as early as mid-February and arrive in Washington, DC, as late as mid-March, potentially impacting the Super Bowl LVI scheduled for 13 February and the State of the Union address scheduled for 1 March.

"While there are currently no indications of planned violence, if hundreds of trucks converge in a major metropolitan city, the potential exists to severely disrupt transportation, federal government operations commercial facilities and emergency services through gridlock and potential counter protests.

"According to law enforcement sources, the group intends to start in California and travel to Washington, D.C., reportedly gathering truckers as they travel across the country; It has also been suggested that truckers from Canada may join the Washington, D.C. event." 

The warning was circulated to law enforcement nationwide on Tuesday and was first reported by Yahoo News. 

White House officials said Thursday that the Biden administration is monitoring the situation at the border very closely. "We are principally focused on resolving the blockage at the Ambassador Bridge as well as other ports of entry," the White House said. 

The Windsor Detroit Ambassador Bridge remained closed on Thursday, but the detour port, Port Huron, is fully operational. 

According to White House officials, the Cabinet and senior White House staff have been engaged around the clock to bring the situation to a swift end. 

White House officials said that on Thursday morning, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg each spoke with their Canadian counterparts, urging them to use federal powers to resolve the situation and offering the full support of the U.S. Homeland Security and Transportation departments. 

As for reports of a possible "Freedom Convoy" event in Washington D.C. in early March, the DHS says it's "aware of these reports and is taking all necessary steps to ensure that the convoy does not disrupt lawful trade and transportation or interfere with federal government and law enforcement operations and emergency services." But, the department adds, it has no indication that individuals involved are engaged in anything other than First Amendment-protected activity.

In a statement, Thursday, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer urged Canadian authorities to reopen the passageway.

"My message is simple: Reopen traffic on the bridge," Whitmer said.

"The Ambassador Bridge is the busiest land border crossing in North America, used by tens of thousands of commuters and truck drivers carrying hundreds of millions of dollars of goods every day. Countless Michiganders rely on this daily flow of goods and people to get things done," she added.  

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