Feds Ramp Up Super Bowl Security Over Possible Truck Convoy Protests

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
February 12, 2022 Updated: February 12, 2022

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is beefing up Super Bowl security over a possible trucker convoy protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other restrictions, according to Biden administration officials.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a Feb. 11 briefing that DHS had already deployed 500 employees to provide air and maritime security support for the Super Bowl, set to take place in Inglewood, California on Feb. 13.

Psaki added that DHS is “surging additional staff” to its Super Bowl incident command post and is working closely with local law enforcement.

“We’re working to address this on all fronts,” Psaki said, noting reports of a trucker protest potentially “causing disruption” at the Super Bowl and reports of a “Freedom Convoy” that could target Washington D.C. in March.

Recent media reports cited an internal DHS memo indicating that U.S.-based truckers could stage protests in parts of the country similar to the ones that have gripped parts of Canada.

“They’re aware of these reports,” Psaki said of DHS, adding that the agency 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.”

jen psaki
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily White House press briefing in Washington on Feb. 9, 2022. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Canadian truck drivers have blocked traffic in protest against mandates that require truckers entering Canada from the United States to show proof of vaccination or face quarantining or testing.  Thousands initially descended upon the Canadian capital Ottawa two weeks ago and while their numbers have declined, more than 400 trucks remain parked in front of the Parliament Buildings.

Demonstrations have generally been peaceful but offensive to some Canadians. Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency last week, saying the protests posed a threat to residents’ safety as there had been complaints of residents being harassed. A number of protesters have been seen carrying signs or flags with obscene insults referencing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has resorted to hyperbole in denouncing the truckers, like calling their actions a threat to democracy itself.

Epoch Times Photo
Trucks part of the “Freedom Convoy” ride through downtown Ottawa, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2022. (Noé Chartier/The Epoch Times)

Some Americans have floated plans to organize similar convoys to Washington and elsewhere in protest against mandates.

Organizers of a group called The People’s Convoy announced Wednesday plans to gather in Indio, California on March 4 and rally that weekend “to defeat the unconstitutional mandates.”

Other social media posts indicate the convoy might travel to Washington, while a poster circulated on Twitter called for a “medical freedom protest” that would shut down the Super Bowl.

According to a DHS memo obtained by The Hill, the agency “has received reports of truck drivers potentially planning to block roads in major metropolitan cities in the United States in protest of, among other things, vaccine mandates.”

“The convoy will potentially begin in California early as mid-February, potentially impacting the Super Bowl scheduled for 13 February and the State of the Union address scheduled for 1 March,” according to the memo.

While The Epoch Times has not been able to independently verify the contents of the memo, a DHS spokesperson confirmed that it’s tracking potential truck convoys in the United States.

“We have not observed specific calls for violence within the United States associated with this convoy, and are working closely with our federal, state, and local partners to continuously assess the threat environment and keep our communities safe,” the spokesperson said.

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People gather in protest against COVID-19 mandates and in support of a protest against COVID-19 restrictions taking place in Ottawa, in Edmonton, Canada, on Feb. 5, 2022. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP)

Meanwhile, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told The Daily Signal in a recent interview that he’s all for trucker convoys coming to the United States to stage protests against COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Paul, who has been vocal in his opposition to COVID-19 vaccination requirements, expressed sympathy with the Canadian truckers in their fight against the mandates.

“They’re riding in a cab by themselves, most of them for eight, 10-hour long hauls, and they just want to do what they want to do. It’s their own business,” he told The Daily Signal.

Canadian truck driver Bill Dykema, 71, told The Epoch Times that he’s protesting in Ottawa on behalf of his 19 grandchildren, saying it’s “for them and to give them their freedom.”

“I’m just a 71-year-old, poor old working man. Our freedoms have gone. You can’t go to a restaurant, unless you’re shot,” he said.

Some Ottawa residents have expressed frustration with the protests. Deana Sherif, who held a counterprotest against the truckers, told The Epoch Times on Feb. 11 that some residents have felt harassed and the blockade was threatening shipments of goods and threatening livelihoods.

“We have a problem with the fact there is abuse on residents of our city and a problem with you stopping or slowing the travel from countries that bring us food or supplies and allow Canadians to work,” she said.

“So if you have a problem with the lockdowns, the way to do that is not force a lockdown.”

The convoys in Canada have disrupted some shipments to or from the United States, the White House said on Feb. 7, with Psaki saying on Feb. 11 that the blockades have “the potential to have a huge impact on workers and the American public.”

The busiest U.S.-Canada border crossing was blocked by protesters starting the same day. Some U.S. automakers have paused output due to the protests.

Richard Moore and Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'