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Photos: More Tucsonans watch 'convoy' than number of trucks in COVID protest

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Around 50 people assembled along Interstate 10 to see the Arizona Convoy as it rolled through Tucson. - Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

More by Paul Ingram

Hoping for a truck-led COVID-protest convoy, dozens of people stood along Interstate 10 near 6th Avenue waving flags and wearing pro-Trump gear. 

But, while the highway was clean clear to Flag Town, the convoy that showed up in Tucson on Thursday didn't have a thousand screaming trucks, but rather just a few semi-tractor trailers, pickup trucks, and one lone RV picking up the rear several minutes behind the main group.

There were more people watching than vehicles taking part in the convoy.

Among the crowd were people who said they believe that "Fauci lied," and were selling their own treatments for COVID-19, numerous people wearing gear from Trump's doomed 2020 campaign for election, a prominent flag that read "Fuck Joe Biden. And fuck you for voting for him," and several schoolchildren from the "Good News Christian Academy." 

Dubbed the "Arizona 2022 Convoy" on Facebook, the vehicles passed through the Phoenix area around 10:45 a.m., the Arizona Republic reported, and then headed south to Tucson — passing by the crowd of about 50 around 12:45 p.m.

While several people stood along the highway, around a dozen people stood on the terraced landscaping beneath Tucson's Cesar Chavez Labor Bridge, which was dedicated to the farmworkers' leader in 2008, includes the words "peace," "justice," and "dignity" stenciled in metal along with Chavez's face.

As trucks rumbled by, the crowd waved and some truckers answered back, honking their horns or revving their engines.

The small group of trucks was part of a larger series of truck convoys that have cropped up, imitating the "Freedom Convoy" protests against vaccine mandates in Canada. In early February, a convoy gathered in Canada's capital and shut down one of the busiest border crossings to the U.S. While more than 90 percent of truckers have been vaccinated in Canada, a small group protested the requirement for three weeks before they were rousted by police.

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One group, calling itself "the People’s Convoy" began on Feb. 23, and said they planned to arrived in Washington D.C. by March 5. Organizers have said they are seeking an end to COVID-related mandates, and the federal emergency declaration, which was extended last week.

On Facebook, the Arizona 2022 Convoy said they expected to leave Southern California on Wednesday evening, and arrive in Quartzite early Thursday morning. After a four-hour rest, the group said they would pass through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland.

A group called Citizens of Arizona set up the online event listing for Thursday. Their other event listing was to support Arizona House Bill 2596—a bill that would have allowed legislators to reject election results. That measure was quashed by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, who torpedoed the measure by assigning it to each and every one of the 12 House committees.

Moments after the small parade of vehicles passed beneath the Chavez bridge, one man shouted "That's it?"

"No, they're coming still," a woman told him. Several minutes later, an RV towing a Jeep rolled by, the last vehicle in the Arizona convoy.

On Facebook, people described being disappointed by the size of the convoy, and a few said that they drove hours to show their support. And, some claimed  the traveling group was slowed by an accident near Eloy, Ariz., and broke into smaller groups after leaving Phoenix. One supporter said they were "saddened" by the negative comments.

"I am saddened by the number of negative comments I have seen here today about the I-10 convoy," wrote Kris Venhaus on Facebook. "This is not about US, the onlookers and supporters. This is about the truckers and all they are sacrificing for US. We are simply there to show we support them."

"Bottom line... be grateful! You got to participate in history," Venhaus wrote. 

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