Social-media websites lit up this morning (May 8) with the news that President Donald Trump had discussed the protest in a call-in appearance on the FOX News network’s “Fox and Friends” show.
During a discussion about COVID-19 and other topics with the president, co-host Ainsley Earhardt prompted the comments by asking, “Everything in front of us, our paper, our water bottles, our pencils, our phones, delivered on a truck, and you tweeted about American truckers being price gouged. What are you going to do about that?”
The president responded “Oh, they are price gouged.”
He then acknowledging the protest near the White House, saying, “it looked like a thousand trucks.”
Trump continued, “All they want is to be treated fairly, and we’re going to treat them fairly. You know, what they’re asking is almost nothing in many cases.”
After claiming that the truckers are “great, great people,” the president concluded his answer by saying, “We’re going to take care of them.”
While the protesters gathered in Washington haven’t given up on their demand for a meeting with Trump or at least administration officials, there was plenty of discussion on social-media platforms. Many feel the president’s comments are a sign that the protest is having an effect. Others cautioned that positive comments are no guarantee of action and that Trump’s statements could simply be lip service.
A number of commenters speculated on what Trump might have meant when he said the protesters would be taken care of.
The protesters moved their trucks from Constitution Avenue yesterday (Thursday, May 7) in response to a request by the National Park Service; parking was prohibited for 24 hours in the protest area due to a planned “special event.” While the nature of the event wasn’t specified, the president appeared at nearby the World War II memorial to place a wreath this morning, commemorating the end of World War II.
With the parking restriction to be lifted at noon, protesters wondered if the park police would honor their promise to allow the protest trucks to return. Tensions were heightened when dozens of orange-painted dump trucks were parked in the former protest area. At noon, however, a police escort was provided for the returning protesters, who paraded back to the Constitution Avenue parking area with American flags waving from most of the vehicles.
The protest, originally scheduled to last three days, is now in its eighth day. Protesters vow to remain until a meeting with the president or his administration is granted.
Rick Santiago, one of the original protest organizers, posted a Facebook video in which he said the protest had accomplished its purpose and the trucks should leave Washington and pursue broker reform through filing complaints.
Truck driver and protester Janet Sanchez, however, posted a video of her own, vowing that the protesters are staying.
A few trucks have left the capital for various reasons, but others are on the way to Washington, and the ranks of the protest are expected to grow.
The coming days will determine what actions the president will take and how the protesters will respond.
Photo of Washington protesters courtesy of Rebecca Doty.