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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – The Illinois State Police is cautioning drivers to beware of a planned trucker convoy that is expected to pass through the state this week to disrupt traffic.

Members of the Freedom Convoy gathered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada beginning in late January to protest COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates. The group was originally formed to contest vaccine mandates and quarantining for truckers crossing the U.S.-Canada border but grew into a protest against all COVID-related mandates and restrictions in the country.

At the time, both the Canadian and American governments had granted brief exemptions for unvaccinated truckers crossing the border in order to keep supply chains running smoothly. Those exemptions ended in mid and late January, respectively, prompting unvaccinated truckers and others to protest.

The Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Associations said more than 16% of the 160,000 big rig drivers who regularly cross the border would be affected by the vaccine-or-quarantine mandate.

The convoy eventually left Canada and some of its members have crossed into the U.S. to further spread its message.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned law enforcement partners at the state level of incoming trucker protests designed to block highways and interstates in major metropolitan areas.

On Saturday, Feb. 26, the ISP released a statement in advance of a planned convoy slated to enter the state and “impede normal traffic flow.”

Col. Margaret McGreal of the ISP Division of Patrol said there is a concern that intentionally blocking or slowing traffic will lead to accidents and fatalities.

“A planned event designed to impede normal traffic flow is dangerous to the innocent motoring public,” she said.

“Those who choose to participate in events that intentionally endanger the public and violate Illinois law will be subject to the enforcement of applicable laws and could potentially be held liable for traffic crashes occurring as a result of their actions.”

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has attributed at least one multi-vehicle accident to truckers from the People’s Convoy, which launched from California last week. The People’s Convoy entered Missouri on Sunday and is headed to the nation’s capital.

Meanwhile, a group called Freedom Convoy USA, which also launched in California, disbanded over the weekend. The truckers departed Friday, Feb. 25 from Los Angeles with the goal of arriving in Washington D.C. ahead of the State of the Union Address. The convoy was canceled Saturday after only five big rigs arrived at the second designated stop. Organizers advised their supporters to join the People’s Convoy.