The People’s Convoy rolled through Springfield Monday and two trucks from the Strafford Fire Protection District were driven to the Mulroy Road bridge to show support.

The fire trucks were on the bridge over Interstate-44, with their ladders up hoisting an American flag.

In my opinion — and this is an opinion column — those fire trucks had no business being there. 

It is inappropriate for fire trucks — paid for by the public — and the fire personnel operating them — whose salaries are paid for by the public — to be involved in what is a partisan political event with its roots in the trucker’s blockade in Canada and with an agenda of resistance to vaccination and masking.

The People’s Convoy website explains its goals in a prepared press release. But also on the main page of the website is a video of a Convoy supporter who states as fact that people are dying from unproven COVID vaccines. I’ll get to his video later.

Ricky Thompson, chairman of the Strafford Fire Protection Board, disagrees with me. In his view, the People’s Convoy of big-rigs and other vehicles, en route from Southern California to Washington, D.C. is not a political event.

“It’s a freedom event,” he says. “I see it as freedom-of-choice and that is about as American as you can get.”

Thompson said he supports the fact the two Strafford fire trucks were there in support.  But he says he can’t speak for the other four members of the board.

The bottom line, he says, is that the trucks would have had to be sent by Fire Chief Jake Agee. 

I tried to reach Agee but did not hear back by deadline.

“I know that the fire department supports the truckers’ convoy and the chief is the one that dispatches them,” Thompson says.

Let’s be clear, I’m not against fire trucks and personnel showing up when heroes come home or when the state championship team returns in triumph.

But that’s not what happened here. Our nation is deeply divided on vaccination mandates and the efficacy of vaccines and masks. 

You know that. I know that. The Strafford Fire Department knows that. 

Many in this nation would argue — as I do — that there is nothing more American than acknowledging that Black Lives Matter.  

Should we dispatch fire trucks onto crowded bridges in support of their next rally?

No. It would be an inappropriate use of public funds. My phone would be ringing off the hook.

The convoy on Monday had what was reported as hundreds of truckers — and other vehicles — stretched over 15 miles.

It’s not a pandemic; it’s a “pandemic”

The website explains the goals in a press release. 

“American truckers are launching The People’s Convoy, a peaceful and unified transcontinental movement, on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, from the Adelanto Stadium in Southern California.”

To avoid possible conflict with police, the group has stated it will not venture into the actual area of the Capitol. It is expected to reach the DC Beltway on Saturday, March 5. 

The press release further states:

“The message of The People’s Convoy is simple. The last 23 months of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a rough road for all Americans to travel: spiritually, emotionally, physically, and — not least — financially. With the advent of the vaccine and workable therapeutic agents, along with the hard work of so many sectors that contributed to declining COVID-19 cases and severity of illness, it is now time to re-open the country.”

Convoy leaders are calling for an end to the national public-health state of emergency first declared by President Trump in March 2020 — in response to COVID — and recently extended by President Biden, who cited the fact that roughly 949,000 Americans have died of the virus.

I personally think the state-of-emergency declaration is likely to end soon — with or without the convoy — based on science. Many states already are relaxing requirements. I believe the worst is over.

At this point, I could explain why the convoy is without a doubt a political event.  But I won’t.  Instead, I’ll let a man named Mike Landis (not the KOLR-10 anchor Mike Landis) tell you why. 

His video is on the main page of the People’s Convoy website.  

“We do have people that are in power in this country that don’t care about ‘we the people.’ They care about their own selves and their own monetary value that are getting rich off this (he uses hand quotes around the word) pandemic that could have been solved three weeks in. Here we are two years later.

“… At this moment we are basically living without our Constitution of the United States.  That means our freedoms that we all love so much — free speech, right to bear arms and so on, means nothing right now. 

“Let me repeat that. Our Constitution means nothing right now. Because of the emergency powers act, which has been reinstated by the current administration so they can continue this farce and continue making money off the backs of the American people —  and the world at this point, basically.

“…People are dying senselessly from not either receiving the correct treatment or from receiving a vaccine that is not proven yet — and that is just science. 

“… We do not want to be under a dictatorship, Communist-style regime, where we are right now.”

That’s not a political statement?  This is not a political issue?

And maybe we can find a way to poll the people of Ukraine about what is and isn’t a dictatorship and Communist-style regime.

This is Pokin Around Column No. 18

Steve Pokin

Steve Pokin writes the Pokin Around and The Answer Man columns for the Springfield Daily Citizen. He also writes about criminal justice issues. He can be reached at spokin@sgfcitizen.org. His office line is 417-837-3661. More by Steve Pokin