The Washington Post

Capital Beltway shutdown just a ploy for attention, trucker says

A jumble of roads and signs are seen on the Capital Beltway near Tysons Corner. (Dayna Smith/For the Washington Post)

It can be hard to get attention for your agenda in a town like Washington, but Georgia trucker Earl Conlon figured out a way: take the Beltway hostage.

Conlon’s comments in a U.S. News & World Report story that he and thousands of truckers from across the country (and possibly Canada) planned to come to the nation’s capital Friday and bring traffic to a standstill on the inner loop of the Capital Beltway zinged across the Web and were picked up by outlets ranging from Fox News to the Huffington Post. The rally was dubbed “Truckers for the Constitution.”

But it is a hoax.

“The comments to U.S. News were designed to do one thing and one thing only: stir the feather of the mainstream media,” said Conlon, a father of three. “Nothing gets the attention of the mainstream media like some sort of disastrous threat. I knew it was going to ruffle some feathers.”

So while thousands of truckers may indeed come to Washington on Friday and many of them may travel along the inner loop of the Beltway, honking their horns, they won’t intentionally shut down traffic, he said.

“First of all, we know it would not be right to go to D.C. to lock down the city by the Belt loop,” said Conlon, 50, a veteran truck driver who has suffered through more than his share of traffic jams. “That wouldn’t be fair to the people there.”

And Conlon is not sure that he will even make it to town Friday.

Still, he thinks that he has already scored a small victory: attention for his cause — mainly what he sees as the overreach of government and the inability for politicians to follow the rules as outlined in the Constitution.

Take the government shutdown.

“We would not be having this conversation if government was balancing this budget,” he said.
His solution: Take lawmakers’ perks away, and pay them minimum wage until the budget gets balanced.

“Then, I think you’d see some action,’’ he said.

Jennifer Jenkins contributed to this report.

Lori Aratani writes about how people live, work and play in the D.C. region for The Post’s Transportation and Development team.



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