Freedom Convoy makes appearance in Gillette

By: 
Cassia Catterall with the Gillette News Record, from the Wyoming News Exchange

A crowd carrying American flags welcomes the “American Freedom Convoy” to Gillette on Thursday.  The convoy, a mobile protest of COVID-19 mandates, passed through Wyoming on its way to Washington D.C.  Photo by Ed Glazar, Gillette News Record.

Freedom Convoy makes appearance in Gillette

 

By Cassia Catterall

Gillette News Record

Via Wyoming News Exchange

 

GILLETTE — Hundreds of people lined up outside of Cam-plex on Thursday afternoon to wait for a convoy of truckers on a cross-country tour to take a message of resistance to Washington, D.C.

Originally expected to be up to 500 strong, the convoy that started in Spokane, Washington, ended up with 20-25 semi-trucks with a much larger number of personal vehicles that had joined the group.

The smaller number didn't deter Campbell County residents who came to greet them.

American flags of all sizes swayed in the wind, either held by their owners, propped up in trucks or propped up on the ground.

Many held handmade signs created to support their cause. “Biden’s a B-tch” and “We Mandate Freedom” were only some of the many messages that graced the incoming convoy. “Let’s Go Brandon” flags were also set throughout many of the people in the crowd.

People passed the message along as they began to see semi-trucks coming on Interstate 90 and taking the turnoff at exit 128 in Gillette.

The first truck on the road had four American flags attached to its front and even an American grill to lead the way.

Farther along, many of the personal vehicles had messages written on their windows including, the recurring word "Freedom" and one saying, "Stop medical tyranny, let docters be docters (sic)."

For Steven Phillips of Las Vegas, Nevada, the trip has been one for personal freedom. He believes the convoy helps to push the cause for “the right to be treated fairly, no mandates, no vaccines,” he said.

He’s been a part of the convoy since the beginning, but will be dropping out around Wisconsin.

His truck can hold about 300 gallons of fuel and since Spokane, he had refueled twice. Given the increasing rate of gas prices, the fuel has not been cheap.

He said as a truck driver, his job’s hours aren't good and people don’t seem to understand what truckers do.

He came along on the early part of the convoy because the hours worked out.

“My company doesn’t really know I’m doing this,” he laughed. As long as he gets his load to its location on time, it probably won’t find out.

Lee Davis of Bellevue, Washington, sat in her car, eating a barbecue sandwich and potato salad that were donated to the drivers in the convoy.

A legal immigrant from South Africa, she was set to go down to Texas this week to look at horses. Instead, she heard about the Spokane convoy.

“I got my truck ready and I headed to D.C.," she said.

Since all of her children are grown and she had no time commitments, she simply told her husband she was going to join the group.

She believes mask mandates nationwide will be lifted soon, but she and her family in Washington have had to show vaccine cards in order to be able to go to different restaurants or the movies. Since they are not vaccinated, they have not been able to go inside the businesses.

She says the convoy has a goal, and those participating aren’t trying to seek accolades.

Jim Leland, also from Washington, said the Gillette reception was “amazing.”

One reason he joined the convoy is that one of his friends lost his job when he chose not to be vaccinated.

Another reason was for his sons in the back of his van who are learning on the way.

“It was critical for our boys to learn what it looks like to stand up to that,” he said.

Thursday is day three of a six-day 3,000-mile-long journey. What will happen once they get to the capitol is unknown, but he presumes there will be speakers and the ability to voice their opinions.

“I don’t know if it’ll make a difference,” he said. “But we’re going to try."

A large crowd of Campbell County residents gathered at the reception outside the Wyoming Center.

After the convoy came to a rest, the national anthem was sung by Shannon Bell and then followed with a prayer offered by pastor Scott Clem.

“We pray against the tyranny, the lies, the taxes on our freedom that’s happening in our land,” Clem said.

He called the convoy “a moving beacon to give hope and courage to those who stand for righteousness and justice and freedom and responsibility.”

As the truckers got back on the highway about 90 minutes after arriving, they passed by coal mine equipment parked next to I-90 by Wyodak employees in sympathy with the truckers' cause. One even displayed an American flag on its grill.

People also stood on the overpass by Wyodak as the convoy left for Rapid City, South Dakota. They waved them on their way with signs and American flags.

 

This story was posted on March 4, 2022

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