Super Bowl may be disrupted by Freedom Convoy-like protest by US truckers, DHS warns
The DHS memo says the protest has the potential to 'severely disrupt' traffic, emergency routes and federal government operations
This year's Super Bowl may face some disturbances by protesters who plan to block roads in major cities in the coming weeks, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security. The Super Bowl scheduled in Los Angeles on Sunday, 14 February, and expected to be attended by 70,000 people, can be disrupted by protests against vaccine mandate, the report says.
A memo was issued in this regard by the Department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis, Current and Emerging Threats Center on Thursday. The memo says there are currently no threats of violence, but the protest has the potential to "severely disrupt" traffic, emergency routes and federal government operations.
The memo also notes that DHS officials have been tracking social media posts around the Super Bowl, including ones with the hashtags #ShutDownSuperBowl and #SuperBowlTrafficking. According to relevant posts, which law enforcement officials started to track around February 3, there were several social media posts with instructions on how an anonymous trucker convoy could disrupt the Super Bowl's security operations.
On February 6, officials found a flyer posted online that said "Shut Down the Super Bowl," with details of a "medical freedom demonstration" near SoFi Stadium on the day of the game. The flyer also mentioned a truck convoy. And according to DHS, the protest is potentially planned for 12 pm local time in LA. But as of now, the memo notes that law enforcement officials in Washington, D.C., have not seen an uptick in hotel bookings in the area for the potential protests.
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In order to make sure that the Super Bowl goes on smoothly without any disturbance, DHS says it has dedicated more than 500 people to support security measures around the event.
Reports said the protesters are a group of truckers who plan to start the protest in California and make its way across the US to Washington, D.C., with more truckers joining along the way. A department spokeperson told NPR, "DHS is tracking reports of a potential convoy that may be planning to travel to several US cities,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 potential protest seems to mirror the Freedom Convoy protests by truckers in the Canadian province of Ontario, which started last month. They have been blocking traffic on the US-Canada border, most recently near Detroit. The impact from the protests in Canada have been significant. Ottawa is under a state of emergency, and officials, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have called on the protesters to leave. Over time, the protests have turned more hostile than was originally planned.