Drivers traveling Interstate 70 through the region, and on overpasses near the highway, saw traffic disruptions Thursday as people lined the area in support of The People’s Convoy, a rolling protest seeking freedom from mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The convoy started the day in Indiana and made its way to Ohio on I-70. It traveled through Montgomery and Clark counties, affecting traffic for miles as it headed east to Columbus and beyond.
Hundreds of people waited for the convoy at overpasses in Montgomery and Clark counties. Overpasses at Bellefontaine Avenue and at Ohio 202 over I-70 at Huber Heights had several supporters there with signs and flags as part of the convoy arrived around 1:45 p.m.
Mindy Brown said she came out to I-70 at Huber Heights to support truckers and opposed regulations regarding COVID-19.
“We’re just done,” she said.
More supporters were on overpasses in Clark County over I-70.
Clark County resident Steve Southard helped organize the gathering at the overpass at Snider Road in Clark County. He said he stands in solidarity with workers of the trucking industry, which includes some of his relatives.
“They move our groceries, they move our crops,” he said. “This is in support of them.”
Hamilton County native Ron Freudenberg drove to Clark County Thursday and waited on the overpass for three hours to watch the convoy. He said he attended because freedoms are being taken away if vaccines are mandated.
Donnelsville resident Gwen McCarty said that she attended the convoy viewing because she disagrees with mandates. She also said she had a special tie to the convoy because her husband was a truck driver for 10 years.
“I wanted to see history and support the convoy,” she said.
Members of the group said the convoy began Feb. 23 in California seeking to lift all mandates and to end the state of emergency regarding COVID-19.
Ohio ended its state of emergency measures in June of 2021 and did not issue mask mandates, vaccine requirements or similar measures even during the omicron variant surge from December to February. Gov. Mike DeWine did activate the Ohio National Guard in December to assist as hospitalizations spiked beyond previous peak numbers.
The convoy was scheduled to stop Thursday night in Lore City, Ohio. The ultimate destination is the Washington, D.C., area.
More than 950,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Ohio has reported more than 36,000 deaths.