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Stories, Stats, Impacts: Wyoming Public Media is here to keep you current on the news surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

A trucking convoy protesting COVID-19 mask and vaccine requirements stops in Gillette

Approximately 50 trucks exited I-90 on their way through northeast Wyoming and gathered at the Cam-Plex in Gillette on Thursday, Mar. 3. They were part of the American Truckers Freedom Convoy, which is currently making its way across the country to Washington, D.C., inspired by counterparts in the Canadian trucking industry who have protested against COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates and vaccine passports.

“There’s a couple ladies, I don’t have their names, but they’re speaking and testifying in Congress when they get to Washington, D.C.,” said Kelley Boltin, the organizer of the Gillette event. “They want to make sure this never happens again. This is about lifting all the COVID mandates and ending the vaccine passports.”

The convoys, which are taking several cross-country routes and originated in different states, are making stops along the way to meet with supporters in various communities.

Boltin said she initially estimated that around 500 people would attend the event and that anywhere from $12,000 to $15,000 was raised for the truckers and their spouses and travel companions by the time they left. Gillette was not initially a formal stop on the convoy’s journey but it later became one after Boltin learned they planned to stop and refuel there.

“I was actually on Telegram and they [convoy organizers] were talking about using the Flying J fuel station,” Boltin said. “And I hopped on and told them it would be a complete disaster [with so many trucks refueling at once]. So as I was communicating that on Telegram, one of the organizers asked me if I’d like to plan the event in Gillette, and so I did.”

Boltin also coordinated with a few small businesses, such as food vendors, to have a presence at the event.

The convoy that came through Gillette originated in Washington state. Not all truckers will continue to Washington, D.C.

“A lot of truckers would join the convoy and they’d get to a certain place and then stop and drop off, more would join, and they would stop and drop off again,” Boltin said. “So, even though we expected more, we’re so thankful for what they’ve done.”

Another convoy traversed southern Wyoming recently and stopped in Cheyenne at the same time as the event in Gillette. It’s also making its way to Washington, D.C.

The truckers are pushing on with their convoys, despite the fact that as case numbers have declined in many parts of the country, many states have begun lifting COVID-19 mitigation measures, including mask mandates. Gov. Mark Gordon recently announced an end to the state’s COVID-19 emergency declaration after COVID cases have fallen over the past few months.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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