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Taking their lead from Canada

by CHARLES H. FEATHERSTONE
Staff Writer | February 21, 2022 1:07 AM

MOSES LAKE — Around 200 truck drivers, farmers, family members and others came from across Grant County — many in vehicles flying U.S. flags, Gadsden “Don’t tread on Me” flags, and Trump 2024 flags — to gather in a bean field west of Moses Lake on Saturday to support Canadian truckers and call for an immediate end to all COVID-19-related mandates.

“We’re here to really show our support for what’s going on in Canada,” said Leah Johnson, one of the organizers of the Freedom Ride and Rally, held along North Frontage Road near the I-90 interchange with Dodson Road. “This isn’t a partisan rally. This is an anti-mandate rally.”

“We feel as Americans that we need to be free. And if we want to choose what to do with our bodies, whether it’s a vaccine or a mask or whatever, that should be up to each individual as a person and as an American,” Johnson added.

Protests broke out across Canada several weeks ago in opposition to mandates that all truck drivers returning to Canada from the United States show proof of vaccination, prompting convoys of truckers and their supporters to travel to major Canadian cities and block city centers and ports of entry between the two nations.

In response, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded by declaring a state of emergency and forcefully removing truckers blockading the U.S.-Canada border as well as surrounding the Parliament building in Ottawa.

According to Johnson, truckers were asked to gather in Moses Lake and George, and then travel in two convoys to the rally site west of Moses Lake. As people gathered, trucks and cars speeding down I-90 honked in response.

“Thank you! Wow! Thank you!” shouted Debra Evens, a longtime Tea Party activist waving a Trump 2024 flag, in response to loud honks from passing cars and trucks.

“If people don't come out against this tyranny, and these thugs, nobody else is going to do it,” Evens said, adding that she’s also out here to make sure her grandchildren have a chance to grow up in a “good world.”

“I’m just ashamed that it was Canada first,” said Daniel Sloane, a Moses Lake physician who works in Mattawa. “You don’t hear from Canadians all that much, you know, and yet they got sick of this whole thing and motivated to protest before we did.”

“That’s an embarrassment as an American,” added Sloane, gathering at Ernie’s Truck Stop in Moses Lake prior to the convoy. “But it’s right.”

Describing the pandemic response as “a farce from day one,” Sloane said the mask mandates should have ended a long time ago. While he’s had patients and family members die from COVID-19, Sloane also said much of the official response has simply been fearmongering.

“Don’t get me wrong, COVID is real, and I’ve dealt with it,” he said.

Wearing a black pullover hoodie bearing his own image and the word “#insubordinate,” former Republic police chief and 2020 Republican gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, who is currently challenging Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Yakima, to represent Washington’s 4th District in Congress, compared the struggle of ordinary truckers, farmers and business people against government pandemic mandates to struggles like David against Goliath, the Colonial militiamen against the British at the Battle of Lexington, or Rosa Parks when she refused to give up her seat to a white man and move to the back of the bus.

“Think about how scared these people might have been, how nervous they might have been, standing up against the authority, to do what was right,” Culp said.

“We have a tyrant in the White House, a tyrant in Olympia, and we the people are standing up and saying no more. We’re going to be like David, we’re going to stand up no matter how nervous it makes us,” Culp said.

The folks gathered in that bean field were standing up for truth and justice, Culp added, for “God, family and country.”

“In that order!” replied one rally attendee.

Culp also told attendees he received a 10-minute phone call from former President Donald Trump last week endorsing his candidacy for Congress, adding that he has also been invited to meet with Trump in Florida on Wednesday and tell him that patriotism is alive and well in Washington state.

“And we are ready to kick some ass,” Culp added.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

Daniel Sloane, a physician who works in Mattawa, joined the Saturday Freedom Ride and Rally because he said he believes mask mandates should have ended “a long time ago.”

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

Freedom Ride and Rally organizer Leah Johnson waves a flag in front of an impromptu speakers stage in a bean field west of Moses Lake on Saturday. The ride and rally was organized as a show of support for Canadian truckers who have been protesting vaccine mandates for the last three weeks.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

A truck convoy arriving from Moses Lake for the Freedom Ride and Rally on Saturday.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

A convoy of tractors arriving for the Freedom Ride and Rally near the interchange of I-90 and Dodson Road on Saturday.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

Trucks parked at the Freedom Ride and Rally west of Moses Lake on Saturday.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

Candidate for Congress Loren Culp speaking at the Freedom Ride and Rally on Saturday.

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald

Candidate for Congress Loren Culp speaking at the Freedom Ride and Rally on Saturday.

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