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When we last left the convoy, they were licking their wounds after two days spent entering residential neighborhoods to harass elected officials and leaving humiliated by teenagers. Locals fought back with eggs and signs and middle fingers and drove the Convoy out of the Bay Area. The past three weeks have been generally quieter, interspersed with moments of terror including three shootings and the revelation that one member of the convoy, which has several children in tow, is a convicted child molester.
After a long week of protesting, on Sunday, April 24th, the convoy was invited to meet with supporters in a friendly location—Placerville, CA, aka “Old Hangtown”. The announcement of an event by and for convoy fans was a relief to our group and convoy watchers in general. (A note on language—“convoy watchers” are critical of the convoy. We watch for research purposes, historical purposes, and to keep ourselves safe when the convoy is in town. People who follow the convoy’s travels because they support the convoy’s goals are referred to here as “convoy fans.”)
During their afternoon excursion the convoy members blocked a highway, met with local proud boys, drove through downtown honking, punched a guy, and then went back to their camp. This set the pattern for the rest of the week—short, disruptive trips in which blatantly illegal activities were ignored by the cops.
Traffic disruptions continued on **Monday **when the convoy visited the State Capitol building in Sacramento after blocking all lanes of the highway, for the second day in a row.
The convoy was very close-mouthed about their destination, which ended up being a few laps around the Capitol building, a few laps around the California Department of Health Care Services, and then snarling up traffic during their laps around César Chávez Plaza. A local source informed our researchers that local Proud Boys believe that spot, location of many mutual aid activities and protests due to its proximity to downtown, is “antifa headquarters.”
The most important photo of the day, viewable in the embedded tweet below, was of a convoy-goer nicknamed “Bandit,” who hadn’t spent much time in front of the streamers’ cameras before. There was a good reason for his previous reticence, as we discovered later in the week.
Tuesday was a pretty standard rest day for the convoy. Most people chilled out at camp, some repaired their vehicles, a few went to the Capitol for some committee meetings, one streamer said politicians should be killed for treason and attempted a weird anti-choice art project with baby dolls, and another streamer admitted to being at J6 and confirming he is a white nationalist. Just the usual stuff.
That night’s meeting was the high point of the day, and of the week so far. TPC announced they would be leaving Sacramento on Thursday. It was also almost exactly a month after the announcement on March 27 that TPC was leaving Hagerstown for California. Before they headed east, the convoyers would be special guests at an anti-government proud boy rally in Olympia Washington, but to get there convoy would need to pass through the “bowels of hell”—aka Portland, Oregon.
Wednesday was largely boring- some convoyers did vehicle repairs at camp, some talked about making explosives, some dropped off food at homeless encampments (please don’t do this, it’s better to work with a local organization instead of invading strangers’ living spaces), others had small children hand out convoy propaganda near the Capitol.
The major topic of conversation through the day was what they convoy members thought would happen when they passed through Oregon, especially the Portland area. The ideas of what counter-protestors might do varied from eggs to rocks dropped from overpasses to even more extreme actions.
Thursday was a fairly boring travel day. The convoy left 2 hours late, spent over an hour at a gas stop in Corning, CA, the ambulance rear ended another convoy vehicle and broke, and then the group spent the night in Talent, OR.
For convoy watchers, our strange hobby and research project got a lot more serious.
It’s common for convoy watchers to attempt to find additional information on members of the group, especially the more colorful characters and oddballs. In most cases this info is quietly filed in a folder and forgotten about—some of the convoy members are pushing hate and extremism, but others are desperate for meaning, and/or mentally ill, or coping with the loss of a child to suicide or a spouse to illness. Solving the puzzle is usually more exciting than the answers, so we figure things out and put it aside.
This time, things were different.
The section below deals with child sexual assault and has been cordoned off in a sidebar, viewable or skippable at the reader’s discretion.
Friday was the day the convoyers would pass through the ‘“bowels of hell.” Early in the day, proud boy Santa returned to the group. The convoyers received a fairly warm reception from locals in southern Oregon, including one who pulled down a “facists not welcome here” banner to ensure the convoy felt welcome. The day was tense, with the kid group traveling separately for safety reasons and the main group diverting around Portland in an effort to avoid the evil “ANTIFA”.
Convoy members shot live rounds at bystanders twice.
The first incident occurred in Portland. Several counter-protestors threw what appeared to be eggs and/or balloons full of paint off the Glisan overpass on 205 North as the convoy was approaching. The convoy responded by stopping, blocking all lanes of the highway, attempting to hose down the people on the bridge with a firehose, firing two shots, then driving away. The police responded quickly, although after the convoy had departed, and focused on the people standing on the overpass (as opposed to doing anything to the people who fired the shots). They later recovered “evidence of one shot fired.” You can read more about the Portland shooting incident in LCRW contributor Vishal Singh’s Daily Kos piece.
The second shooting occurred near Vancouver, WA later in the evening. Convoy members fired several shots near an overpass after hearing rumors on the CB that eggs were being thrown from another overpass. Police initially didn’t respond at all to this incident, and only began investigating after a video of the shooting was posted to reddit several days afterwards. Fortunately, no-one was injured in either incident.
As expected, the police did little or nothing to reign in on the convoy who shot at people. Less than an hour after the second shooting, the convoy arrived at their camp site in a Walmart parking lot in Woodland, WA. The police showed up shortly after—not to investigate, but to welcome the convoy to town. Later in the evening, the convoyers made jokes about the earlier gunfire being the sound of a vehicle backfiring, fireworks, or popcorn.
On Saturday, the convoy attended a small facist rally in Olympia, Washington, where they mingled with other extremists, threatened to shoot people, and announced they will be spending a few days in Idaho before heading back toward Washington, DC.
COME WHAT MAY
The past few weeks have been mercifully quiet on convoy watch. On May 1 the convoy traveled to Idaho where they discovered all their cold food had gone bad, grifted food from the locals, and had a poorly attended rally sponsored by local far right extremists before starting their journey back toward DC on May 5. They’ve faced wind delays, another poorly attended rally in Des Moines, and of course the usual vehicle issues and squabbling.
Unfortunately, their rally in Ohio on May 15 was well attended, and while the convoy was small when they arrived in Idaho its size has since nearly doubled. With an increase of size comes an increase of drama- one member of the convoy called the police Sunday evening after the rally, complaining that another convoy member had shot at him during an argument. On Tuesday May 17th the convoy arrived at the Hagerstown Speedway, their DC base, and a rally at 6pm.
We’ll see what happens next.