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The first sign that this would be a weird week—even by convoy standards—was the arrival of the FAFO fire truck, a retired bright yellow fire truck with working lights, siren, and fire hose. This week the convoy had one protest at a Jewish Community Center, two protests at the Capitol in Sacramento, three protests at the private homes of elected officials, and multiple calls for violence—all shared with the world via livestream.
The People’s Convoy (TPC) arrived in the Sacramento area on Easter Sunday. The rally started with something that became a running theme throughout the week—calls for violence aimed at Assemblymember Buffy Wicks. Asm. Wick is the target of the convoy’s ire because she is the primary author of reproductive rights bill AB 2223 as well as the primary author or a coauthor of six of the ten bills the convoy came to California to oppose. That day’s threat was made by Chuck “Chucky” Biddles, a California resident, organizer of the (now defunct) Unified Americans Convoy of California, and the person who filed for most of the permits for the protests Sacramento this past week.
“The lady that wrote that, in my opinion… just my opinion… I’d have shot her in the head when she handed me that paper,” Biddles said on a livestream.
The rest of Sunday was spent settling into their temporary camp in the parking lot of an abandoned mall in Marysville, CA, resting up for the week ahead, and of course live streaming the whole endeavor.
Monday was TPC’s first full day in Sacramento. There was a small rally scheduled for 1pm, then the convoy planned to retrieve their gear from Marysville and travel to their permanent camp in Sacramento. This was always intended to be a quieter day, but “quiet” is a relative term for the convoy.
They entered Sacramento Monday morning with flags waving and horns blaring but were soon interrupted by Chucky- the CHP had told him if the honking continued the convoys’ permits would be pulled. The convoy members were furious but (reluctantly) stopped honking for the day, completed a few additional laps, then parked.
After lunch at a taco joint, the convoy held a small, short, sparsely attended rally. While the crowd was small, the rhetoric was big- Mike Landis fantasized about lynching politicians then Chucky discussed “eliminating” an elected official. This vitriol was not related to the convoy’s anti-mandate stance, but is instead due to AB 2223, the reproductive rights bill.
The AB-2223 Reproductive Health bill will protect pregnant people from being prosecuted for their pregnancy outcomes, shielding them from what happened to Lizelle Herrera in Texas earlier this month. It applies only to “pregnancy related” causes, and contrary to the convoy’s claims it does not legalize infanticide. Wicks’ involvement in this bill is personal as well as political. In September of 2021, she had had a miscarriage requiring an emergency abortion procedure known as a D&C. She has spoken openly about this experience and how it impacted her as a person and as a legislator.
While most of the convoy parked, one streamer left on a special mission—to purchase additional, even louder horns for the convoy to use the next day. They spent nearly $1000 on 5 “train horns”, paid for by those following the trucker’s livestream. The streamer rejoined the convoy in Marysville later in the day, and the group then traveled to the Sacramento Raceway Park where they will stay for up to 2 weeks. The camp is about half an hour’s drive from the State Capitol building. They set up camp, installed train horns, and settled in.
Tuesday April 19 was the 27th Anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing. The convoy’s big protest day began with another member fantasizing about lynching a politician and went from there. After a brief meeting, the convoy, consisting of over a dozen bobtail trucks, their fake fire engine, and several dozen passenger vehicles (aka “4 wheelers”) headed for the Capitol. Some members of the convoy were tired because they stayed up late installing train horns on several of the vehicles.
The convoy traveled quietly for much of the drive (unusual for this group) and blared their horns when they hit 16th Street in Sacramento, continuing to honk for more than 20 minutes as they drove laps around the Capitol. The sirens of the fire truck only added to the chaos and confusion, making it hard for bystanders to tell if the sounds they’re hearing are a real emergency vehicle or the convoy.
The atmosphere was an unsettling combination of smugness at the thought of the discomfort the horns might be causing lawmakers and fury that those lawmakers dared to move forward with bills the convoyers disagreed with. TPC was welcomed by supporters holding a banner that read “truckers convoy solidarity” and parked in premium spots on 10th street that had been blocked off by local allies since early that morning.
While not directly affiliated with the groups organizing the anti-choice rally, many convoy members supported their goals and attended their “press conference” at 11am. Others helped set up for the convoy’s noon rally on the opposite side of the Capitol. The convoy’s rally was smaller but decently attended, with the usual calls to “lock them up” and the now-standard references to lynching.
After the convoy’s rally ended, the California residents affiliated with the group went to the health committee meeting in a building across the street from the Capitol to give input on AB 2223. Chuck Biddles had earlier mentioned being barred from this meeting, likely as a result of his disruptive behavior (timestamp is 46:20) in the public comment portion of a different committee meeting earlier in the day. Other members of the convoy remained with the trucks and blared their horns for nearly an hour, before departing the Capitol area shortly after 5pm.
After the public comment portion of the health committee concluded, the vote was 5-3 in favor and the matter was put “on call” for other members to call in and vote (bills need 8 votes to pass out of this committee). The convoy, still driving around West Sacramento, was quickly notified. They were furious, and in a chaotic scene decided to return to the Capitol and block the streets (and possibly the building exits) until the vote was changed.
Upon arrival back in the vicinity of the Capitol the convoy traveled the wrong way down trolley tracks and blocked a street. The yellow truck the image below was taken from was initially the front of the line of vehicles, the other trucks backed in later to reinforce the blockage.
Police responded quickly and within 20 minutes the convoy had agreed to stop blocking traffic and building entrances. By 6:15pm, the convoy had relocated to the legal parking spots they’d occupied only hours before and said they planned to stay there for days. As night began to fall the convoy’s mood was tense and meetings were held away from cameras and livestreams, an unusual move for this group.
Then a rumor began to circulate—the bill was “out” of committee with a vote of 11 to 3. The convoy was jubilant, celebrating their first major win in almost two months of convoying. The celebration didn’t last long, as some friendly locals explained the political process, and the truth was posted by Planned Parenthood (and other groups) online: The bill had passed out of committee, moving on to the next step in the legislative process.
“A fundamental misunderstanding of the meaning of a vote in the California legislature left the People’s Convoy celebrating the advancement of a bill they believe would legalize infanticide Tuesday night.”
QRR researchers watched these events in real time and saw the convoy’s bizarre journey through fury (at the initial vote), jubilation (when they believed they won), and depression (when they realized they lost). If you’d like to experience something similar, check out Behind the Mirror’s video.
Shortly after they realized the bill had advanced, the convoy decided to return to camp. TPC’s “occupation” of Sacramento lasted less than 4 hours.
The convoy’s mood was a bit low after their loss on Wednesday. Morale was slightly healed because the convoyers got to cuddle with 5 teeny tiny puppies that are currently living at their camp—all so young their eyes aren’t even open. There are also several human children living at the camp.
Xray, one of the convoy leaders, planned a “secret mission” for the “4 wheelers”. The semi trucks, fake fire truck, and other large vehicles took the day off.
The secret mission was soon revealed—a protest at the gates of Governor Newsom’s home. The convoy brought their banners and bullhorns and looped around the neighborhood several times, honking all the while, until the CHP arrived and informed them that they were breaking local noise ordinances. Convoyers continued their laps and protest at the gates for a few hours, ate $350 of pizza delivery ordered and paid for by the fans of one of the live streamers, and met with local Proud Boys before returning to camp a few hours later. It was annoying for neighbors and largely ineffective, as per usual.
The “secret missions” continued on Thursday, again largely composed of small vehicles. The convoy drove down to Menlo Park, over two hours each way, to go honk at Facebook’s mostly-empty parking lot for 15 minutes. After departing Facebook’s campus, they continued on to the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center to attempt to join other antivaxx protesters in disrupting an award ceremony. The Tall Tree Awards honors those who have “played a role in creating or sustaining many of the things that have come to define life in Palo Alto.” This year they honored a scientist whose work helped develop rapid COVID testing. The protest was tasteless, even by convoy standards.
After a few hours harassing people with little to no ability to impact the group’s grievances, the convoy departed from the JCC. Some went directly back to Sacramento while others attempted to protest at Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home. They may or may not have succeeded, as none of the convoy were sure which house belonged to her. They did leave a small flag in the front yard of one of the houses in the area.
QRR researchers were amused to realize that the convoy missed the opportunity to protest at former President Obama’s speech about the damaging effects of disinformation at Stanford that night. And thus ended another day on the convoy.
Early Friday morning the People’s Convoy’s website announced the exit of Brian Brase, one of the original organizers. His departure (or ousting) was a shock to many convoy members, and in fact to Brase himself. Brase was the public face of the convoy for its first month, beloved by most convoy members, and coined the convoy’s catchphrase, “They work for us.” His departure felt like a significant shift in direction.
But this announcement was only the beginning of one of the most chaotic days of the convoy so far.
Friday was another “secret mission,” although Xray did announce that they “found out the location of “one of the principle authors and coauthors of all of these bills we’ve come here to shut down and stop.” As the day progressed it became clear the convoy was heading to the Bay Area, and eventually to Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’ Oakland neighborhood. This convoy was much bigger than the two previous days. The inclusion of both the fake fire truck and a fake ambulance only added to the chaos.
The convoy was blocked by pedestrians, ridiculed, and egged. While the convoy had originally planned for the trucks to stage in a Home Depot parking lot while the smaller vehicles parked in the neighborhood and talk to neighbors and bystanders, they instead hurriedly exited the area.
Some convoy members were badly shaken.
“It really feels like I drove into the devils den and drove out,” one member said.
All were furious about the way they were “welcomed” by the neighborhood. Some attempted to clog the Oakland PD’s phone lines while others discussed returning to the area and protesting at the police station that “protected Buffy Wicks.” The convoy returned to camp to lick their wounds (and wash off the eggs).
Saturday marked the 2 month anniversary of the convoy’s departure from Adelanto, CA, and another “secret mission.”—after they washed off the stench of day-old eggs of course. The convoy’s plan to stop for gas at their usual station was stymied when an early arrival realized the pumps were blocked off, likely because they were out of gas. As is common for the convoy, children and dogs were present.
After their fuel stop the convoy proceeded to the day’s protest location— the private home of Dr Richard Pan, a California State Senator, in the North Natomas area of Sacramento. This isn’t the first time Dr. Pan has been targeted for his vaccine advocacy. In 2019, an anti vaxxer caught misdemeanor assault charges for shoving him. While Dr Pan’s neighbors weren’t as ornery as Buffy Wicks’ were on Friday, they were still prepared to answer back against the convoy. One neighbor taunted them with a “Biden Won” sign.
The convoy’s vehicles harassed this quiet residential area with car horns, train horns, and bull horns for 45 minutes or so before departing and slowing down traffic on the highway on their trip back to camp.
As of the time of publication, the convoy is still in Sacramento, still harassing locals, still threatening elected officials, and still trying to disrupt the political process. To keep up to date on the convoy’s travels in Sacramento and beyond, follow us on Twitter at @QRemedyResearch.