A planned American “freedom convoy” of truckers opposed to vaccine mandates, inspired by protests in Canada, could involve a blockade of the Super Bowl in Los Angeles this weekend that “could severely disrupt transportation, federal government, and law enforcement”, according to reports.
The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to US law enforcement agencies warning of a convoy “potentially impacting Super Bowl LVI” on 13 February, and the 1 March State of the Union address in Washington, where the mooted convoy is likely to arrive, CBS reported.
The DHS bulletin said such a protest “could severely disrupt transportation, federal government, and law enforcement operations through gridlock and potential counter-protests”.
In Canada, trucker protests have been linked to the far right and caused days of disruption in the capital, Ottawa, and at the US-Canada border, with major disruptions to the economy.
The idea of a US convoy has spread widely online, as thousands of people have joined pledges to bring the demonstration to Washington. Some people on Facebook and Telegram, the secure messaging platform, have now started to suggest the convoy could “shut down the Super Bowl”.
One aspiring politician, Ryan D Kelley, a fringe candidate in the GOP primary for the upcoming Michigan gubernatorial race, appears to have backed the idea: “Sure would be a shame if a convoy of trucks surrounded the Super Bowl so that nobody could attend,” he wrote on Wednesday.
A poster being circulated for the proposed convoy advertises the event as a “medical freedom protest” – objecting in particular to requiring children wear face masks.
Most of the significant organization appears to be behind the idea of the convoy heading to Washington later in March.
Facebook has shut down a number of the groups dedicated to planning the convoy, which has hampered organizing efforts, but also makes it difficult to assess just how likely, or how big, any rally might be.
But the QAnon conspiracy movement has seized excitedly on the idea on the far-right message board 8chan, where followers have been closely watching events in Ottawa. One motivating factor for QAnon supporters’ fixation appears to be the baseless rumour that host cities for the Super Bowl also become hotbeds of human trafficking, which the FBI has repeatedly refuted.