What could one day be known as the "Drive on Washington D.C." is gaining steam this week even as one trucker quoted as a leader of a truck drivers' rally along the Capital Beltway rescinded much of his strong initial rhetoric.
The movement, known on the Internet as "Truckers Ride for the Constitution," first appeared nationally after a trucker named Earl Conlon from a tiny town in Georgia told U.S. News and World Report on Monday that truckers would seek the arrest of elected officials in Washington.
The Washington Post then reported Tuesday night that Conlon backtracked on his strong statements Monday and the newspaper went so far as to call the Beltway shutdown planned for Friday "a hoax."
Neither report is true, Conlon told Philly.com Wednesday afternoon.
"When I gave U.S. News their story, I said that I posted strong wording like 'we're going to lock down our brakes and demand all the arrests of the congressmen who supported sending weapons to Syria and Al Qaeda. But that didn’t all get posted," Conlon said in a telephone interview. "But I used strong rhetoric because nobody was covering it. I wanted to get all Americans on board. But I'm not associated with 'Ride for the Constitution.' I'm just one man, one truck driver trying to get things done."
He and hundreds of others will still rally in Washington starting on Friday, however, Conlon confirmed.
"But I’m not stupid. I'm not going to try arrest someobody or halt traffic on the highway, which would be really wrong for people that live there," he said. "But the convoy around the loop, yes, but lockdown, no."
He said he's leery of talking to the media anymore, considering the backlash on the Internet in published reports and on blogs and Facebook.
I knew they would make me the bad guy, but I'm not part of Zeeda’s thing and do not want to appear bad," he said, referring to one of the Ride's supposed leaders, a former country singer named Zeeda Andrews. "It is not a hoax. Yes, we are going to rally. Yes, we are going to convey [on the Beltway], but it will be peacefull and lawful."
What seems to irk Conlon as much as the media's suddenly delirious coverage of the rally this week was online attacks after Conlon took back some of his strongest quotes from the initial story.
"People on Facebook are calling me a liar and a liberal," he said. "I am damn sure not a liberal."
Read Philly.com's initial coverage posted Tuesday here.
Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.
Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.