Truckers' noisy protest expressed frustration with Trump – not support

Protest

Air horns blasts in support of pandemic relief interrupted Trump's briefing but he claimed 'They love their president'

A sign is placed on a semi-trailer truck as truckers protest about low rates and lack of broker transparency during the coronavirus pandemic in Washington on Friday.Photograph: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

As Donald Trump spoke to the press in his Rose Garden on Friday, a low hum could be heard from outside the White House grounds. The president said the sound was truckers "showing support" and insisted: "They love their president." In fact, the noise, which grew to include the honking of airhorns, was a protest.

According to a long-haul trucking industry website, the Trucker, the protest has been active for 15 days. The drivers involved say they have not received targeted support in any coronavirus stimulus package and do not have adequate access to protective equipment and healthcare. They have also voiced serious concerns about the rates they are getting through brokers who connect them with people needing to ship goods.

According to the Washington Post, "Just two weeks ago, President Trump personally extended his gratitude to truckers, welcoming representatives of the industry to the White House and calling truckers 'the foot soldiers' in the war against the novel coronavirus." But the paper quoted Santiago, "a 21-year veteran of the industry from New Jersey", as saying: "The American truck driver needs help, and we need it now. This is our distress call to our commander in chief to address the problems we are facing.

He has called us heroes - his heroes need his help now." On Wednesday, the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, met the protesters for nearly 15 minutes, the Trucker reported. This, the website said, gave some enough hope to return to work, though it added that many did so simply because they could not afford more unpaid leave.

The Trucker reported that Meadows met Michael Landis, founder and chief executive of the United States Transportation Alliance, who acted as a spokesman.

Meadows "offered his personal email and promised that if Landis put together a list of priorities and [sent] it to him, Meadows [would] act", the website reported. "The wary Landis, who has personally heard years of promises of action from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and others in Washington, responded, 'We'd like to hear that from the president.'"

Meadows reportedly insisted he was "speaking on behalf of the president of the United States".

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