Trucker convoy protesting COVID restrictions to arrive Sunday for Los Angeles rally

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A big rig with an Uncle Sam mannequin at the People’ s Convoy rally on Feb. 23, 2022 in Adelanto, Calif.

LOS ANGELES — A convoy of truckers opposed to California’s COVID-19 vaccination mandates and restrictions will join hundreds of protesters expected to gather in Grand Park in downtown L.A. on Sunday for a “Defeat the Mandates” rally.

Despite new coronavirus variants, many of California’s health mandates have been lifted due to a decrease in new infections and rising vaccination rates. Still, there are warnings from the scientific community that ending the health emergency prematurely will leave the nation vulnerable.

A group of about 100 truckers dubbed the “People’s Convoy” disembarked in February from the Mojave Desert in San Bernardino on a nationwide tour that took them to Washington, D.C., and back. They will meet other protesters in downtown L.A. on Sunday to rally against what organizers call “an aggressive slate of COVID-19-related bills” being proposed in the state Legislature.

One of those bills, Assembly Bill 1993, would have required employees and independent contractors, in both the public and private sectors, to be vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment. But the bill was ultimately shelved by Democratic lawmakers, who pointed to the easing of mandates and improved pandemic conditions.

Sunday’s rally will include music and a number of speakers, including medial professionals opposed to masking, vaccine mandates and the federal government’s COVID-19 emergency declaration.

Originally inspired by the “Freedom Convoy” in Canada, the People’s Convoy claims it is a nonpartisan group of people united in their opposition to vaccine mandates.

“It’s up to you. You want a vaccine, take it,” organizer Mike Landis said in a livestream. “That’s the whole point of this. It’s about freedom. Your freedom to choose what you feel what is best for your life within the morals and the guidelines of our Constitution.”

Organizers with the People’s Convoy have repeated false claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill more people than they save and have promoted the unproven treatment of the virus using ivermectin, a drug used to treat parasitic infections. Supporters at a Feb. 23 rally in Adelanto waved anti-Biden signs including an obscenity and signs and banners supporting former President Donald Trump.

Several trucks were decked out with stickers calling for the release of accused Jan. 6 insurrectionists from federal custody, and multiple attendees wore apparel with alt-right and Nazi symbols. The People’s Convoy website has since put up a new instruction asking supporters to only wave the U.S. and state flags.

Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 1 million people across the United States, including almost 90,000 Californians, have died due to complications from COVID-19, according to the online publication Our World in Data from the University of Oxford.

Nathan Solis: